Pro-ICE protests encourage division

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Pro-ICE protests encourage division

Graphic by Kisha Yan

Graphic by Kisha Yan

Graphic by Kisha Yan

Bence Szego, Opinions Writer

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On Sept. 13, RM students found themselves shut in school, unable to go out to open lunch, due to administration concerns about clashes between pro-ICE protesters and counter-protesters just a few blocks away outside of the Montgomery County Council Office Building.

There is a definite distinction between the protesters and counter-protesters. The former oppose undocumented immigrants and want them to leave our county. The latter support them and aim to share the benefits of our county.

One of the pro-ICE protesters, Ed Gomez, holding a bright yellow sign which told undocumented immigrants to “Go Home!” among other things, was insistent that the quality of life in the county has been declining for the past 22 years. “The raising of taxes, and an increase in overall crime, some horrendous crimes… by illegal aliens [are some of the symptoms],” Gomez said.

One of the main reasons people oppose undocumented immigrants is because they are supposedly more likely to engage in criminal behavior, but a recent study by the Pew Research Center found that there is no such link in crime between communities with and without undocumented immigrants. In fact, there has been a decrease in overall crime rate, despite the spike in undocumented immigrants.

There were many at the protest who disagreed with Gomez. Counter-protesters chanted “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.” There is a network of people who love Montgomery County and are committed to spreading the positives to those who need it.

Immigrants deserve a safe place to live and add to the diversity of our community. “It’s not lost on me the importance of protecting the rights of immigrants to live and thrive in our county. We are so lucky to have a multitude of different types of people living in this county,” Lily, a daughter of asylum seekers from Iran and a lifelong resident of Montgomery County, said.

This is the inspiring immigrant story that Montgomery County should be embracing, as it has in recent days, with County Executive Marc Elrich putting forward an executive order preventing ICE from invading our immigrant communities.

Especially given the outstanding standard of living in Montgomery County, shown in the well-funded public schools, abundant job opportunities and growing economy, we should be supporting our immigrant and asylum seeking community, as they are the most vulnerable, and have the most to gain from our amazing county.

Furthermore, pro-ICE protestors seem to have forgotten their own existence as visitors to the country. “We are all immigrants,” counter-protester Nancy Hoover said. The fact of the matter is that almost everybody, no matter their family history, can trace their lineage to off of our shores. Humans are a mobile species, and the hate towards immigrants undermines our entire country’s foundation, the work of immigrants.

But that is the most important thing. No matter where we are from, this county is what brings us together. The pushback against immigrants comes from the basis of belonging to our country, which is especially problematic when you stop to consider that often the people that we consider to be the most “American” are immigrants, or children of immigrants themselves. These actions by the right have only created division in this county, and ultimately, tear us apart.