El Salvador’s Ambassador Claudia Ivette Canjura de Centeno, right, and Consul General Ena Ursula Pena thanked the council for its resolution Tuesday. Credit: Andrew Metcalf
The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday passed a symbolic resolution calling on the federal government to protect two immigration programs that let thousands of young undocumented immigrants and people fleeing their home countries stay in the U.S.
The resolution asks Congress to extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for immigrants who have fled their countries due to war or natural disaster, as well as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which enables young undocumented immigrants to obtain work permits.
The resolution carries no enforceable measures, but council members on Tuesday said it expressed the all-Democratic council’s position against President Donald Trump’s moves to end the immigration programs.
“We want to express our deep concern about what is happening at the national level,” Council member Nancy Navarro said.
El Salavador’s ambassador, Claudia Ivette Canjura de Centeno, was at the County Council meeting Tuesday and thanked the council for approving the symbolic resolution.
She said the resolution shows the love the county has for all people and that it “enhances the values and principles of the people of the United States of America.”
“I really do believe, this city, especially Montgomery County, is one of the best,” Canjura de Centeno said. “You’re really good people, your friendship, your love. … It makes me feel I’m really at home. I think my people feel it, too.”
El Salvador’s consul, Ena Ursula Pena, said Montgomery County’s welcoming stance toward immigrants is one reason the country decided to move its consulate from Washington, D.C., to Silver Spring this year.
She described Silver Spring and the county as “the home base” for Salvadoran TPS holders in the U.S. She said that in Silver Spring, they attend meetings, get training and plan ways to protect TPS in Congress.
The ambassador and consul from the Central American country were joined by more than a dozen immigrants and advocates wearing blue shirts. They cheered as the council passed the resolution.
Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Chevy Chase) accompanied the Salvadoran officials to the council meeting and expressed her gratitude to the council for passing the resolution. Gutierrez and County Council President Hans Riemer were arrested last week during a protest at the U.S. Capitol that was organized to try to influence Congress to pass legislation to protect DACA and TPS.
Riemer previously said that about 600 young immigrants who attend Montgomery College participate in DACA.
The council’s resolution notes that Maryland is home to the second largest number of TPS recipients in the U.S.—including about 19,800 Salvadorans who have 17,100 U.S.-born children.
Navarro said the county has “invested heavily” in the education of TPS recipients’ children. She said immigrants who live in the county thanks to the program have mortgages and businesses.
“They’ve truly made a contribution to our community, state and nation,” Navarro said.
The resolution is the latest that asserts council members’ position on national issues.
Last week, they passed an “emergency climate mobilization” resolution that calls for governments across the country to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100 percent by 2035.
In June, council members passed a resolution affirming their commitment to support the goals of Paris Climate Agreement, after Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the accord. In March, they passed a resolution condemning Trump’s federal budget proposal and urged the U.S. Congress to reject the proposal.