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Friday, December 7, 2007

Taneytown, MD Councilman Determined to Rid the City of "Criminal Aliens"

Connie Castanera

Here we go again, another attempt to cleanse this country of "criminal aliens." That is what Councilman Paul Chamberlain for the City of Taneytown calls anyone who is residing in this country illegally. I prefer the term "undocumented." He claims that anyone who is here illegally is a "criminal." I absolutely disagree.

After reading the December 5, 2007 article in the Baltimore Sun newspaper, by Arin Gencer, entitled "Immigrants Again an Issue in Taneytown," my first thought was, "Here We Go Again." This is the same Councilman who sponsored the resolution about a year ago to declare that English be the official language of Taneytown, Maryland.

Frankly, I live in Taneytown and I've never heard anyone talk to me in any language, other than English. Was this a problem then? Is it a problem now? A year ago, Councilman Chamberlain acknowledged that although Taneytown officials had not had problems dealing with non-English speakers, he claimed that he wanted to be proactive. I'm wondering if it is proactive or prejudiced.

I called Councilman Chamberlain Wednesday (12/5/07) afternoon because there was a "workshop meeting" scheduled for that night, at 7:30 PM, in Taneytown, to discuss his new proposal to declare that Taneytown is not a sanctuary City. I initially called to find out more information before attending the meeting, which was canceled due to wintery weather conditions. I wound up talking to Chamberlain for quite a while.

He first asked me where I was from. I told him that I live in Taneytown. He said, "Great!" Then he asked me if I minded sharing my position on his proposed resolution. I told him that I was opposed to it, and he asked me why. I responded, "Because I feel that it is motivated by prejudice and discrimination." I went on to tell him that, as a Christian, I don't believe that is the way Jesus would have us treat one another. I believe that we are all children of God and He loves us all equally.

He shared his reasons, in an effort to defend his position, and justify his proposed actions, and I shared mine. The more he shared, the more he convinced me that he did not have accurate information about immigration, and that he is supported by many who are prejudice-motivated. Finally, we agreed to disagree.

As we concluded our conversation, I asked if he would be willing to sit down and talk with people in the Hispanic community, and to be open to other points of view and more accurate information. He said that he would. I am hoping that he keeps his word because I will be contacting him in the near future.

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