The observation likely would cause him to go full-on apoplectic, but self-described “old-fashioned progressive” Marc Elrich, county executive of Montgomery County, Maryland, shares a significant leadership trait with a politician he surely considers his political polar opposite and moral inferior: Donald J. Trump.
It seems Elrich, like the president, is predisposed to govern by decree. How else to describe Elrich’s sweeping, controversial and ironically titled executive order “Promoting Community Trust” issued July 22. The edict bans Montgomery County executive-branch departments, including law enforcement, from cooperating with or assisting federal government agencies in enforcing immigration law. It bars U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from non-public areas in the Montgomery County jail and denies ICE access to interview aliens who are being detained by the county. In essence, the order affirms Montgomery’s status as a sanctuary county. (Another irony — as well as an absurdity — is that Elrich emphatically shuns the label “sanctuary county.”)
Not surprisingly, the Elrich dictate was met with high hosannas from Montgomery’s amen chorus which is made up of an all blue Democratic and obsequious County Council and an electorate generally renowned for its prodigious progressive proclivities. Republicans, centrist independents and supporters of the rule of law, however, were vehemently opposed to the order. Since its issuance, several rape charges brought against illegal aliens (reported almost exclusively by conservative media outlets) have intensified and expanded opposition to it. In the meantime, Elrich’s certitude about the righteousness of his directive, in combination with his denigrating dismissiveness of those questioning it, have exposed another distasteful characteristic the county executive shares with our president: hubris.
Upon issuing the ban, Elrich’s public demeanor was decidedly self-satisfied, smug even. A July 26 report by television station WJLA quoted him as saying “If ICE thinks it’s really important, they can probably get here. You know, they’ve got cars. They know where the jail is. They know where the pre-release center is. ... It’s not my job to do that part of their job,” Elrich said with a slight grin on his face. “If ICE manages to be outside the [jail] door when someone walks outside the door, I can’t do anything about that, but if they ask us on anything other than a judicial order, then we’re not holding them.”
Taking a cue from their leader, Montgomery’s acquiescent council issued a statement attempting to rebut growing and increasingly vocal opposition of county citizens to Elrich’s order and singling out conservative media and Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) acting Director Ken Cuccinelli specifically. The statement also resorted to dredging up the tedious, knee-jerk progressive mantra by suggesting opponents of the order are racists, neo-Nazi sympathizers, xenophobes, or all of the above.
Montgomery County is notorious for its collective sanctimony, self-righteousness and pretentiousness as well as its intolerance and contempt for citizens or groups choosing not to walk in lock step with county’s leftist majority. The council validates this notoriety in the closing paragraph of its statement:
“Montgomery County has earned a reputation as a great place to live, work and raise a family, not despite of, but because of who we are. We are teachers, scholars, scientists, engineers and our small businesses power the engines of our economy. We will not be defined by a racist paintbrush designed to stoke unreasonable fear and tensions in our county.”
Well la-dee-da. But wait, there’s more: Since the Elrich edict was issued, seven illegal aliens have been arrested as suspects in a series of sex crimes in Montgomery County. One girl, just 11 years old and from an immigrant family herself, was repeatedly raped over the course of a year, allegedly by two illegal aliens, one of whom had been previously deported. At least one rape suspect was released back into the community before he could be detained by ICE. In the aftermath of the arrests and the public outcry that ensued, Elrich prevaricated, stating that his order was not intended to apply to “serious crimes.” But it has not been amended to reflect this critical distinction or specify the applicable crimes.
It’s all been enough to wipe the grin off a county executive’s face. And apparently it did. Kind of. At ICE’s request, Elrich met with the agency on Sept. 10. While both sides described the discussion as “productive,” was apparent from his post-meeting comments that Elrich is immovable on his decree. Or, to quote Pontius Pilate, “What I have written, I have written.”
Reasonable people are justified in wondering how releasing illegal aliens charged with serious crimes back into immigrant communities facilitates “Promoting Community Trust.” Marc Elrich appears not to be one of these people.
Brent Grimes writes from Damascus. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.