Rodriguez, Almiron & Kenney Defend Sanctuary City
Jim Smith/El Hispano
Philadelphia – “We must stand united against the criminalization of our immigrant community” and indiscriminate “deportations,” declared Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos, the immigrant advocacy organization.
Beneath the shadow of the iconic Love Park statue at 15th and JFK, Ms. Almiron was joined by Jennifer Rodriguez, Exec. Director of the Mayor’s Office on Immigrants and Multi-Cultural Affairs and Democratic Mayoral Candidate Jim Kenney, Thursday, to denounce a Republican led effort in the U.S. Congress to withdraw Homeland Security funding to cities that enact sanctuary city-type policies.
After referring to the growth in immigrant population that had helped the city maintain its status as the nation’s fifth largest city, Ms. Almiron called on public officials to reject “Donald Trump-type” policies that “seek to divide us, tear us apart” and promote “hate.”
Jennifer Rodriguez of the Mayor’s office similarly praised the “thousands of immigrant that live, work and contribute to our city’s social, civic and economic fabric.’’
‘ Although immigration policies are crafted at the federal level, cities are where immigrants live,” said Rodriguez, “and mayors are uniquely positioned” to make decisions about public safety.
Ms. Rodriguez recalled Mayor Nutter’s policy decision of April 2014 to preclude the Philadelphia Police Department from honoring ICE detainers, except where the individual has been convicted of a serious crime and ICE has obtained a warrant. The policy, Rodriguez explained, “reflects the administration’s informed judgment on how best to promote public safety by building strong positive relationships between our immigrant community and our government.”
The excessive and “overboard immigration enforcement” efforts pursued in the Republican proposal, Ms. Rodriguez continued, “undermines everyone’s safety. In fact surveys show that immigrants are less likely to report crimes when they fear deportation.”
“If we eliminate the fear of deportation immigrants are more likely to cooperate with police and become engaged with government,” which increases the overall safety in neighborhoods.
The Director of the Mayor’s office also called on the U.S. Congress to enact immigration reforms that “reflect the welcoming values that our nation and our city were founded on.”
A leader of the New Sanctuary Movement, Blanca Pacheca criticized public officials who were “exploiting” the “senseless” killing of Kathryn Steinle by an immigrant simply for “political gain.”
Democratic Mayoral Candidate Jim Kenney said it was in “the best interest of the city” to continue Mayor Nutter’s policies regarding ICE Holds and cooperation between local law enforcement and ICE, explaining that it was basically a matter of “supporting the Constitution of the United States.”
Just three months removed from a Democratic party primary victory, Kenney rebuked “gross twist of logic” behind the Congressional proposal to withhold funds from Sanctuary cities. If immigration officials want the local police to detain an individual, they only need procure a warrant. Otherwise, Kenney added wryly, “the constitution trumps ICE.”
“I wish the U.S. Congress was as animated over gun violence and education as they are about holding immigrants without a warrant,” added Jim Kenney.