The panel would advise county government on concerns of the immigration community.
Frederick, Md (KM). A bill to set up an Immigrant Affairs Commission was adopted Tuesday night by the Frederick County Council. The vote was 6-1.
The 17-member panel would advise the county government on issues of concern to the immigration community, and make recommendations.
The bill was sponsored by Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater. “We have such a large and growing and very diverse immigrant community with folks from many different countries of origin who come with many different skills and contributions to our community,”: she said.
The legislation was amended a few weeks ago to limit the scope of the Commission to county government only, and not include the School System, the Sheriff’s Office, the State’s Attorney’s Office and the courts. Another amendment would require the commission to submit a report in two years to the County Council and the County Executive. The panel would have eight weeks to respond to any questions or requests from elected officials. When that process is completed, the Council must vote whether to reauthorize the commission.
Councilman Steve McKay introduced these amendments because he said he had some concerns. “Concerns in terms of expectations from the public that we heard;. In terms of what the Commission could do, including things that were outside of the scope of the county,” he said.
Council Vice President Michael Blue cast the lone “no” vote. “I agree with everything that Councilwoman Fitzwater has said. I just don’t agree with setting up another commission to have a separate silo instead of working collaboratively with what he have,” said Blue, referring to such entities as the Human Relations Commission.
In her comments, Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer said she reviewed the public testimony about this bill taken by the Council. “And overall, what I’m hearing was a community of people who feel like they don’t belong in Frederick County,”: she said. “Who moved here to be part of our Frederick County family, to be part of the Rich History and the Bright Future, and don’t feel they have part of that vision, that they’re not welcome here.”
She hopes the Commission will help answer some of those concerns. “I do recognize the urgent cry from this community to be a part of the Frederick County community, to be a more integrated part of the Frederick County family,” Keegan-Ayer said. . “And if that is what they feel this commission will do, I will be supporting it.”
By Kevin McManus