Even though Baltimore’s searing temperatures reached more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend, that didn’t stop over one hundred protestors from chanting, singing, and marching against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Artscape, one of the largest free arts festivals in the nation, became the stage for the newest anti-ICE protest held by the advocacy group Jews United for Justice. Despite the intense heat rocking the east coast, the rally drummed up more than a hundred activists among the 350,000 people who attend Artscape each year.
For one participant, the march was particularly painful. After participating at a Families Belong Together Rally last year at the southern border, Maryland local Tim Rothermel knew he had to attend the Artscape protest.
“It’s sad [that] we have to keep going,” he said after an hour-long drive to the protest. “It’s getting worse and worse and honestly, nothing is going to change until more and more people keep going out to events like this.”
It’s estimated that 26% of all immigrants who enter the country are Mexican, but numerous individuals from all over the world still seek asylum, freedom, and opportunity in the arms of the United States. Maryland, in particular, has a diverse population and is ranked one of the top states for quality education. Rothermel is currently a pharmaceutical sales representative residing in Elkton.
Armed with songs and chants protestors also held signs sporting slogans like, “Immigrants Welcome in Baltimore” and “No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here” to raise awareness regarding ICE actions. They also handed out fliers detailing information on two of the Artscape’s most prominent sponsors: PNC Bank and John Hopkins University.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Hopkins has trained and educated ICE agents while PNC has financed the companies who build private prisons for detainees. It’s estimated that ICE has detention centers across the country, holding more than 18,000 detainees as of July. The college president has defended their ICE contracts in the past but refuses to offer a comment in light of these new protests.
ICE had planned to raid the city of Baltimore the previous weekend along with 10 other major U.S. cities under orders from President Trump. However, these immigration raids came to a stop in Baltimore when City Major Jack Young voiced his opposition against ICE.
Thanks to his efforts, along with the help of the Baltimore Police Department, Young claimed that officers will not participate in the raids, nor will they provide traffic control to aid ICE efforts where raids are taking place. Almost 60% of U.S. workers note that lack of communication is the biggest obstacle to success; without support from the counties, it’s thought that ICE will leave the citizens of Baltimore alone.
“Immigrants who call Baltimore home should not live in fear of family separation and deportation, and I will continue to do all that is in my power so that all Baltimore residents, including immigrants, feel safe and welcome in our city,” said Mayor Young.
The raids were launched in order to deport more than 2,000 immigrants who had outstanding deportation orders. But just like nine in 10 Americans who hope to stay home after the age of 65, few immigrants want to leave; they also see the United States as their home. In the words of Artscape protestors, these actions are “dehumanization at its basest,” particularly at the southern border.
Montgomery County wants to put an end to ICE in their community once and for all. According to WTOP, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich will sign an executive order that bans all agencies within the county from asking for immigration status. The order will also prevent these agencies from cooperating with ICE, meaning that all deportations must be performed without cooperation from Montgomery County police.
“The Promoting Community Trust Executive Order aims to reaffirm current county policy and improve community security by ensuring that immigrant and otherwise vulnerable communities can engage with county departments,” said Elrich in a statement.
In the meantime, WTOP also notes that ICE detainees are more than 8,000 people over occupancy levels.
The protest at Artscape ended when they reached the performance stage. There, advocates delivered final speeches regarding the protest and closed the march with the Mourner’s Kaddish to honor the fallen.