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Testimony on Police Role in Enforcing Federal Immigration Laws

by Isabelle Young, Lydia Levy, and Ameen Elhamdani

on behalf of Richard Montgomery High School's RM Huddle Club
Monday, March 6, 2017

I'm Isabelle Young, and with me today are Lydia Levy and Ameen Elhamdani.
We represent RM Huddle, a political activism club at Richard Montgomery High School.
We stand here before you today in strong support of the addition of section 11-3,
"Fostering Community Trust" to the Rockville City Code, as proposed by
Councilmember Carr. It is our belief that this addition will promote an inclusive
community for all regardless of immigration status. We as International Baccalaureate
students have friends from different backgrounds and different countries, and we know
how important diversity is in making us all better people. We've seen firsthand how
misguided immigration policy has affected our friends at RM (Richard Montgomery) and
their families. RM's student body boasts incredible diversity of races, religions, and
beliefs. The one area where diversity can't be found is tolerance. Students at RM are
exposed to so many different ways of being, and it teaches us to become accepting and
understanding of differences. As our nation became more and more divided, the RM
community supported and continues to support those who felt victimized by speech or
action intended to hurt them. However, we can't pretend hatred isn't still there. Despite
all the acceptance, some students still feel like they have permission to hate. We see it in
the student on my bus who tells me immigrants aren't worthy and feminism is pathetic.
\Ve see it at my little sister's eiementary school, where her Muslim friend was called a
terrorist. We as a community must come together and show that this does not reflect us or
our views on tolerance. We understand that this ordinance may make some feel a little
threatened, but it's vital to any important decision to separate fact from feelings.
According to NPR "On average, counties that did not comply with ICE requests
experienced 35.5 fewer crimes per 10,000 people than those that did." They also saw a
number of additional benefits of adopting policies that protect immigrants, including,
"higher household incomes, lower rates of unemployment, [and] lower rates of poverty."
We as high school students are the future voters and future policymakers of our city. It is
imperative that we are shown equity and acceptance not just through everyday example,
but through real policy.

Good evening, I'm Ameen Elhamdani, a student at Richard Montgomery High School.
This is going to be short and concise, hopefully conveying my message with clarity. The
fear of being deported is stressful amongst people, specifically school-aged students. I
myself am constantly burdened with the amount of homework I have, and it becomes
extremely difficult especially with extra-curricular activities like sports. Now on top of
homework and extracurriculars, the fear of being deported, ripped apart from the
community you live in, and all your friends being taken away from you, filled with
despair. I cannot begin to imagine the fear that some go through. As students, we should
be focusing on education and making our lives better, not live with the constant thought
that we might not be in school tomorrow because of being labeled as an illegal
immigrant We are all immigrants, except for the native americans .. How can we blame
them for attempting at a search for a new and better life? It's not their fault they are in
this situation, they did not ask for it. Although there will be the very very few who wish
to exploit these possibilities in a malicious way, we should not let that fact crumble this
effort. I hope Mayor Newton, Councilmember Feinberg, Councilmember Onley,
Councilmember Carr and Councilmember Pierzchala vote in favor of this ordinance, and
make Rockville a better place to live in.

Good evening. My name is Lydia Levy and I'm a freshman at Richard Montgomery High
School. As you heard, I'm here with my peers in support of making Rockville a place all
immigrants are welcome. I've been fortunate enough to live a comfortable life: I have a
great family with a steady income; I've received an incredible education. I am not being
targeted. Because of this, it's my responsibility to speak for those who now can't speak
for themselves. Rockville is made up of about 45% minorities, while our high school is
made up of about 66 percent. That amounts to 1,481 students. In the United States, illegal
immigrants make up an estimated 3.5% of our population. Applying this to the Richard
Montgomery community, we can estimate that up to 51 students could be illegal
immigrants, or children of them. That's 51 students seeking nothing more than an
education. 51 students who have the right to feel safe and accepted in their own school.
While this is just an estimate, it addresses an issue that is concrete: students all over our
community feel threatened by random police actions. At RM, we not only acknowledge,
but celebrate our diversity. To do anything but encourage acceptance and foster a safe
learning environment is unjust, and unfair. I can attest that prejudice shown against any
RM student is not tolerated, and I believe that Rockville can reflect this as well. As this
ordinance mentions in Section 11-3, Subsection A, one of the reasons this policy is
important is to, and I directly quote, "support youth and education." As students, we can
tell you firsthand that this action will do exactly that Every student, regardless of
immigration status, deserves to feel safe in their own school and be allowed to succeed.
Mayor Newton- Councilmembers, we ask you to seriously consider what Rockville
stands for as a community. Thank you.
Sources Cited
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