- The Washington Times - Monday, December 2, 2002

Grass-roots organizers in Montgomery County want lawmakers to pass a resolution that would instruct police not to comply with the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service.
If the resolution is passed, the county would join Takoma Park and other local governments across the country that have passed resolutions protesting the federal Patriot Act and Department of Homeland Security.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) calls the act a "repressive Bush administration measure."
Takoma Park is among about 20 municipalities that have passed such resolutions.
The City Council unanimously agreed in October to adopt the resolution "reaffirming support for civil rights and civil liberties in the face of government policies that threaten these values."
Eugene, Ore., passed a similar resolution last week, and a dozen other municipalities were considering similar legislation, said Damon Moglen, a spokesman for the ACLU's national office.
The effort in Montgomery County has been led, in part, by resident Stephen Dwyer, who contacted the ACLU and other organizations this fall to raise public awareness about homeland security and civil liberties.
"It's a dialogue that was certainly not engaged in the aftermath of 9/11," said Mr. Dwyer, a Virginia lawyer. "To a large extent that's understandable. We had never experienced such a horrific incident within our country's borders."
But he says he thinks Americans are becoming aware of the civil liberties concerns.
"Now that more than a year has passed, you see an increase in the dialogue," he said. "And I'd like that dialogue to occur in Montgomery County. Most citizens probably don't know about the provisions in the Patriot Act and in many of the other initiatives.
"If I can get people to think critically about these issues, then a major goal will be achieved."
Mr. Dwyer has contacted Phil Andrews, Ward 3 councilman; held one meeting; and started planning another for Dec. 17.
However, he is facing an uphill battle, said David Weaver, spokesman for County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.
"I'm confident that the county executive won't be presenting such a resolution, and I'm doubtful that the council would be approving something even if it's introduced," Mr. Weaver said.
The situation was easier in Takoma Park because the resolution reinforced the city's status as a sanctuary. The city has not enforced immigration laws since 1985.
City Council member Joy Austin-Lane, Ward 1, said the resolution is a way for citizens to make a strong, collective statement to the federal government.
Council member Marc Elrich, Ward 5, said: "You do it just so everybody knows that not everybody goes along with this. If everyone's silent, there is an appearance of a consensus that everybody's willing to forgo their civil liberties."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation said the act gives "sweeping new powers to domestic law enforcement and international intelligence agencies that [have] eliminated the checks and balances that previously gave courts the opportunity to ensure that these powers were not abused."
The Takoma Park resolution says the act "all but eliminates" judicial supervision over telephone and Internet surveillance, expands the government's ability to conduct secret searches, limits free speech through broad definitions of terrorism and gives federal investigators "broad access" to an individual's private information without evidence of a crime and without a court order.
The resolution also calls for public library officials to tell patrons that federal investigators are free to check library records.
The city also wants to know which residents have been detained and why.
"We might ask how many wiretaps have been obtained in our community," Mr. Elrich said. "We might ask whether any Takoma Park residents have disappeared, [but] we probably won't get a response."
ACLU officials are confident the resolutions are important no matter what the government response.
"This is a grass-roots movement that we think reflects a real broad concern," Mr. Moglen said.


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