- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 26, 2005

“Why is Montgomery County so weird?” That was one of the first questions County Executive Doug Duncan received earlier this week from Chip Franklin, a WBAL Radio talk-show host, when he took his gubernatorial campaign to Baltimore — home to Mayor Martin O’Malley, who is likely to face off with Mr. Duncan for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination next year. On the question of Montgomery’s liberal political culture, Mr. Duncan acquitted himself relatively well when asked about County Council efforts to ban smoking in private homes and the Kensington town council’s decision not to have Santa Claus attend the lighting of the town Christmas tree.

But Mr. Duncan was notably unpersuasive when responding to questions about a much more serious issue: his support for illegal immigration. He reiterated his support for permitting illegals to obtain Maryland driver’s licenses, suggesting that, if they couldn’t have them, police wouldn’t be able to find out who the illegals really were and that denying them licenses would jeopardize public safety. Apparently, the fact that people who are here illegally in the first place might use the licenses to conceal their actual identitities also is foreign to Mr. Duncan. He says he prefers to look at an immigrant as “not a terrorist,” but rather someone trying to make a better life for him or herself.

His is a distorted view of the real world, in which illegal immigrants board airplanes and use them as bombs. And those who are not terrorists have broken the law, and are helping to create a new American underclass.

But Mr. Duncan and his fellow politicians in Montgomery County regard a welcoming approach to illegals as a sign of their progressivism and moral superiority — and a way to court a potentially attractive Democratic voting bloc. So, in January, when the county executive spoke at the dedication of an employment center for day laborers — the group running the facility, Casa de Maryland, does not ask if they are legally here as a matter of principle — he used some of the day laborers as political props.

We certainly hope that, as Mr. Duncan travels across the state, he gets more questions from skeptical voters about the way in which he and other Montgomery County politicians have worked together to encourage illegals to migrate to the county. Mr. Duncan should be asked to explain his support for lower in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants, and the policy of permitting immigrants to use ID cards issued by foreign embassies, such as Mexico’s fraud-ridden matricula consular, in order to obtain county services. He should also be asked about the catastrophic consequences that illegal immigration has had for Montgomery County residents, such as the case of sniper Lee Boyd Malvo and that of Jose Alvarado, an illegal immigrant who molested a child, was deported to El Salvador, then returned to the county and molested another child two years ago. And Mr. Duncan should be asked about Montgomery County’s decision to order police not to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Meanwhile, Mr. Duncan’s world view marches on: After months of searches by Latino advocates, Gaithersburg officials have found yet another place where illegal-immigrant day laborers can gather to find work. But the city, apparently fearing it will galvanize opposition from neighborhood residents if the announcement is made too soon, refuses to say where the new center will be. Once the decision is made, Mr. Duncan is likely to preside over the dedication, with plenty of other local politicians in tow.

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