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ICE conducts "specific criminal enforcement" in Columbia, Howard County Police say

Posted at 12:25 PM, Jun 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-26 16:35:48-04

Howard County Police said Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be in the Columbia area Wednesday morning.

“This is a courtesy call to advise our personnel that there may be some activity, which is standard operating procedure,” said a statement from Sherry Llewellyn, the Director of Public Affairs for Howard County Police. “It was not described as a 'raid,' but more specific criminal enforcement.”

Llewellyn said Howard County Police did not offer to help and ICE did not request such assistance.

“Howard County police were not involved in the operation in any way,” the statement said.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball released a statement Wednesday afternoon in an attempt to assuage fears around the federal agency's actions in the county.

"To clarify, this activity was part of a specific, standard criminal enforcement operation, not a raid or sweep," Ball said, reiterating HCPD's lack of involvement. "Though I want to put a stop any misinformation, I also want to reassure every resident that Howard County opposes the criminalization of undocumented people and our priority continues to be the safety and security of everyone in our community."

Ball was emphatic about the county police's lack of support to the ICE operation, stating the department has a clear policy not to aid ICE or to ask residents about immigration status, and that the county government continues make the safety of all residents, documented and undocumented, a top priority. He said the community remains united.

"Last week, I joined with other elected officials across the region to speak out on behalf our immigrant communities and on the importance of safeguarding our civil rights," Ball said in his statement. "Today, I stand firm in those beliefs and will continue working to protect the dignity and safety of all our residents. In Howard County, we believe diversity is our strength and we will always value inclusion above division."

WMAR-2 News reached out to ICE for further comment on the operation, but those inquiries have not been answered at this time.

ICE had planned to conducting operations at locations throughout the country last weekend, but that crackdown was delayed. Baltimore was reportedly one of 10 cities to be targeted by the agency.

With increasing worry among immigrant communities about such actions, many groups in Maryland were holding classes to inform immigrants of their rights, how they should interact with ICE, and what they should do if they are detained. Some workshops also tried to inform bystanders how to be "allies" to immigrants and help them deal with the ICE.