Potomac businessman David Trone is looking to assist Montgomery County residents who may be impacted by President Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban to six Muslim majority countries.
Trone on Thursday announced he and his wife, June, will provide a $100,000 initial grant to the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC) so the group can pay an immigration attorney to handle local cases that could crop up if Trump’s proposed travel ban is reinstated.
Earlier this year Trump issued an executive order that halted for 90 days the U.S. entry of travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. However, last week the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond upheld a lower court’s decision to put a freeze on the travel ban after finding the president’s power to deny entry into the United State is not absolute, according to The Washington Post.
Trump has argued the travel ban is necessary to protect national security and the case is expected to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
Trone, the founder of Total Wine & More who is also mulling a possible run for county executive or the U.S. House of Representatives, said the grant will fund legal assistance if and when the executive order goes into effect.
“The Trump administration’s action is an attack on the basic freedoms Americans hold dear and an affront to all of us,” Trone said in a statement. “June, our children, and I are committed to doing whatever is needed to protect the rights of our neighbors affected by this outrageous policy.”
Trone said in an interview with Bethesda Beat on Thursday that he and his wife find the travel ban “to be outrageously egregious.”
“We thought we could do a small part to step up and help,” Trone said. He added that CLINIC has already hired an attorney to handle the potential immigration cases.
He said that as the travel ban is debated in court, the legal assistance fund will be used to provide local residents who could be impacted by it with information about what their rights are. He said the county’s “most spectacular asset” is its diversity.
“Our Muslim brothers need to feel secure and know the doors in America are open for more diversity because it makes America greater,” Trone said.
Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of CLINIC, said in a statement the donation will help reduce a critical gap in legal services available for families in need that may be affected by a travel ban.
Trone also provided additional grants to Interfaith Works, the Latino immigrant group CASA and the Montgomery County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union to help those groups defer costs associated with representing people impacted by the proposed travel ban.
The grant funds are being donated by The David and June Trone Family Foundation. Trone said the amounts of the donations to the other groups are less than the one to CLINIC and will be used to help funnel cases to the Catholic organization.
Trone said he chose CLINIC after speaking with ACLU leaders about which nonprofits can best provide legal assistance.
In May, the Trone foundation announced a $2.5 million donation to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda—one of the five largest gifts the hospital ever received. That gift will help the hospital bolster mental and behavioral health services as well as fund the hospital’s campus expansion on Old Georgetown Road.
The Trone family’s donations come as David Trone, a Democrat, mulls whether he will run for county executive or the 6th District Congressional seat held by Rep. John Delaney. Delaney is considering a run for governor, which could open up his seat in the district that includes Potomac and western Maryland, but the congressman has not formally announced his plans.
Trone finished second to Jamie Raskin in the Democratic primary for the 8th District Congressional seat in 2016—spending more than $13 million of his own money. Despite not formally declaring what he may run for, Trone has set up a campaign-style office in Potomac, established an active Twitter account and has made several public appearances at business and political conferences this year, in addition to his recent announcements of charitable donations.
Trone said Thursday he will run for county executive if Delaney decides to run for re-election. If Delaney does not run, Trone said he will discuss with his wife where they believe they can make the biggest difference.
“I committed to public service in January 2016,” Trone said. “I will absolutely be running for another office.”
Trone said if he runs for county executive, he’ll focus on creating jobs, improving education, investing in transportation infrastructure and growing the county’s stock of affordable housing.