Commission On Immigration Affairs Bill Receives Mixed Reviews From County Council

It would serve as an advisory body for the immigrant community









Frederick, MD (KB) Tuesday night, the Frederick County Council met to discuss an immigration bill introduced by Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater.

The bill would create a Commission on Immigrant Affairs that would serve as an advisory body for the immigrant community in Frederick County.

Councilwoman Fitzwater said this bill has gained support from the community.

“I do think there is a demonstrated need and interest in the community for something like this already,” said the Councilwoman. “And I think that this format is something that really could be mutually beneficial and successful.”

Councilman Steve McKay said the proposed commission may not be balanced in terms of members.

“It seems very heavy on the official side versus the actual, you know, individuals who are designated as immigrants,” he said.

Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer said she is worried this bill may interfere with the work of Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, Michael Hughes.

“I have concerns about this undermining some of the efforts that he might be trying to undertake,” she explained. “I have concerns that this might be, I hate to say it, but setting him up for failure in one sense with one aspect of our community.”

Councilwoman Fitzwater said one person dedicated to address the needs of equity and inclusion in Frederick County is unrealistic.

“I think talking about setting up for failure, assuming that that one position is going be able to accomplish the vastness of issues that have come up under this topic of equity and inclusion, is just not realistic to me,” she responded.

Councilman Kai Hagen openly voiced his support for the bill, but other Council members were unsure.

Councilwoman Fitzwater will need to make adjustments to the Commission on Immigrant Affairs bill.

The County Council also held a hearing on changes to the county’s personnel rules. They include adding sexual orientation, gender identity, and genetic information as protected classes.

Only one person from the public testified. Peter Brehm is a former member of the Board of the Frederick Center and he spoke in favor.

“It sends a message that Frederick County is affirming of LGBTQ+ people from a hiring stand-point,” said Brehm. “I commend this bill and endorse its passage by the full Council.”

The Council is expected to vote on this legislation at a later date.