JESSUP, MD – After months of working with Executive Calvin Ball, the Mid-Atlantic’s largest immigrant advocacy organization CASA is pleased that Howard County will deeply sever its relationship with ICE. In a new executive order announced today the County will significantly limit communication between ICE and county agencies and prohibiting detention of most people awaiting civil immigration cases in Howard County’s detention center.

“Today we claim victory for everyone who banded together to fight for immigrant families in Howard County: now, this county, which has long been recognized as a place where diversity is embraced and celebrated, can truly live up to its reputation,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA. “These policy changes mean that people won’t be detained just for being immigrants. Howard County is in line with other counties that welcome immigrants.”

Laura Arroyo, CASA Member, lives in Howard County and was deeply affected by the County’s relationship with ICE: her husband was detained and later deported from the United States. She is now raising her three children alone with her husband overseas.

“Today is very important to me because Executive Ball has made the decision to introduce an order that would have prevented the deportation of my husband in Jessup,” said Laura Arroyo. “My husband was deported from the Jessup detention center for re-entry, not a violent crime. He is an exemplary father who never let our three children want for anything. For me it has been very hard to deal with the day to day without him. I do not want any other family to go through what we went through. This order is very important to my immigrant community because it gives us security. It gives us security that our families will not be separated. It gives us security to feel comfortable when interacting with county officials. This order is a great achievement because no child will go through the trauma that mine have gone through. Every child deserves to have their parents during critical moments in their lives as they grow up.”

With almost 1,500 members in Howard County, CASA has been deeply engaged in bringing members together with key stakeholders. The peaceful protests, vigils, community forums and conversations convened by religious and educational institutions demonstrated the urgency for Howard County to join all of the other large jurisdictions in Maryland by rejecting outright and unlimited collaboration with ICE through formal policy. Twenty percent of Howard County residents hail from Latino and Asian first- and second-generation immigrant families.

“ICE is a nefarious agency that has a record of abusive behavior and civil rights violations, closed Torres. “With this executive order Howard County is not only standing with and for immigrants and our collective values of inclusion and welcoming diversity, they are also rejecting the rhetoric of hate and division that has scapegoated that are too prevalent in our country right now. Ultimately, we hope that the state of Maryland follows suit, cutting all ties with ICE and disassociating itself with Trump’s deportation army.”