Philly immigrant groups press Nutter for support on ‘sanctuary’ status

Pennsylvania lawmaker seeks to defund sanctuary campuses
Charles Mostoller

Philly immigrant activists delivered a “people’s executive order” to Mayor Michael Nutter that they want him to sign to ensure the city keeps its ‘sanctuary city’ status.

The move comes afterNuttersaid last month that he was consideringamending a highly publicized 2014executive order which limited some forms of city law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Related link:Philly may drop ‘sanctuary’ city status

“It would be heartbreaking if he decided to move forward with collaboration, because now you’re givingfamilies the chance of being caught up in the deportation process right before Christmas,” said Jasmine Rivera, an organizer with Juntos.

Rivera, along with activists from New Sanctuary Movement and Juntos brought “the people’s executive order” to Nutter’s office on Wednesday, and gave him a deadline of Friday to sign the document pledging support to uphold Philly’s sanctuary city status.

Related link:Mayor signs order reforming ICE holds policy

Mayor Nutter’s 2014 order ended the practice of city law enforcement honoring ICE (Immigrations Customs & Enforcement) holds — the practice of ICE requesting police or jails to hold individuals who were suspected of being in the country illegally.

He is currently considering changing the policy to renew notifications for certain types of offenders — even though he only has three weeks left in office, and mayor-elect Jim Kenney has vowed to undo any changes to the policy once he takes office.

Nutter’s spokesman Mark McDonald said Wednesday that the question is “still under review.”

“We appreciate their concerns,” he said of the activists’ demands. “That’s why we are engaged in the due diligence that we are.”

The change being considered specifically refers to notifying federal authorities about a narrower range of individuals than previous ICE holds called for,including violent criminals, gang members, people who pose a risk to national security or who are caught crossing the border.

“It’s just going toresult in families being deported here in Philadelphia,” Rivera said. “We know all too well that what DHS (Department of Homeland Security) officials say will happen and the reality is are very different …they become dragnet programs.”

The ‘people’s executive order’ also calls for further steps away from cooperation with federal immigration authorities, Rivera said, such as ending the right of ICE investigators to enter city prisons or police districts to question people, and to view Philadelphia databases of individuals in custody.

“If we want to be a welcoming city, we should be taking steps forward to further separate the police and ICE,” she said. “The only thing we can make abundantly clear is what the community is calling for him to do, not just to not participate in collaboration, but to end collaboration.”