Laws Immigration
AP_16207817586899.jpg J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Mayor Jim Kenney.

September 21, 2016

Kenney vehemently defends Philly's sanctuary city status

Bill aimed to end city's policy moves forward

Mayor Jim Kenney issued a harsh rebuke Wednesday of a state bill that aims to end Philadelphia's status as a sanctuary city.

House Bill 1885 passed out of committee on Tuesday and will enter the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for consideration. The legislation targets so-called sanctuary cities by forcing state municipalities to lift restrictions on officials from communicating with federal immigration officers.

Kenney was critical of the Republican Party and the bill's primary sponsor, Rep. Martina White.

“I sincerely hope that the Republican Party wrote this legislation to help Donald Trump win Pennsylvania because if Representative White actually wrote this bill with the intention of reducing crime then I have serious concerns about her understanding of the law, government and policing," Kenney said in a statement.

The bill would also hold municipalities accountable for any damages caused by illegal immigrants' criminal activity.

White, who represents the state's 170th District in Northeast Philadelphia, called the city's policy "reckless."

“I can think of no better example of the dangerous consequences caused by Mayor Jim Kenney’s reckless sanctuary city policy, which is an open invitation to criminals who know they will be protected from deportation,” White said in August.

White's statement came shortly after an illegal immigrant was charged in July with raping a child after the city ignored a detainer request by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Earlier this month, ICE officials also offered strong criticism of the city's policy after another illegal immigrant was released from custody despite a detainer request.

However, Kenney has dismissed that criticism and claims White's bill would have a harmful effect on the city.

"If the city failed to comply with this incredibly dangerous law, we would lose funding for thousands of our most vulnerable children," Kenney said. "If Rep. White wants to help those children, she needs to spend less time helping the Republican Party dog-whistle and more time working on school funding so that our children can actually have a safe, stable learning environment.”