January 09, 2016

Toomey asks Kenney to rethink Philly's status as 'sanctuary city'

Mayor says cities are more safe with protection for undocumented immigrants

Politics Immigration
Pat Toomey Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey thinks new Mayor Jim Kenney should reverse his recent reversal on Philadelphia's status as a "sanctuary city."

Kenney signed an executive order shortly after being sworn in as Philly's 99th mayor that restored a previous order from now-former Mayor Nutter which barred local officials from cooperating with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in regards to undocumented immigrants.

His action followed through on a December promise to do so if Nutter revoked the status. Nutter did late in December, only to have his decision nullified after Kenney took office.

Toomey has urged Kenney to rethink his decision, according to PoliticsPA. He cited a request from President Barack Obama for Philly to end it's sanctuary status and comments from former Pennsylvania Governor and Philly Mayor Ed Rendell, who said Kenney would be better off following federal law. More from PoliticsPA:

“The City of Philadelphia has unfortunately decided to defy both federal law and common sense at the expense of keeping Pennsylvanians safe,” said Senator Pat Toomey. “I strongly urge more Pennsylvania Democrats to call on Mayor Kenney to reconsider his decision to shield dangerous and violent criminals from federal authorities just because they are illegal immigrants.”

The website points out that Rendell is the Chairman for the senate campaign of Katie McGinty, a Democratic challenger for Toomey's seat. Toomey reportedly wants McGinty's camp to respond.

Toomey was among Republican lawmakers who tried -- and failed -- to push legislation that would withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities, a move made after a woman in San Francisco (a sanctuary city) was murdered by an undocumented immigrant and convicted felon. 

In a statement, Kenney responded to Toomey's comments by saying most undocumented immigrants do not prose a problem, and said cities were less safe when they were scared to report a crime or ask police for help:

We make our city more dangerous, not less, when our undocumented immigrants – the overwhelming majority of which are otherwise law-abiding - are too afraid to report crimes to the police or to help them solve them. It’s just a fact: San Francisco, the most infamous sanctuary city, has a comparably lower murder rate than those cities without sanctuary city policies. Native-born, American males without a high school diploma are three times as likely to be incarcerated for a violent crime than less educated males from Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala, the three countries of origin from which the majority of undocumented individuals come.

Kenney reiterated in his statement something he made note of when he signed the order: that he'd been in talks with officials from the Department of Homeland Security, who the mayor says needs to reach out to local immigrant communities about their fears of deportation or warrantless holds. He said those steps were better than "fear-mongering." 

Nutter's administration, before reversing the status, said that the consideration was being made because of changes to ICE policies. Those changes affected how local officials shared information with authorities if someone is being sought in Philadelphia.