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March 06, 2017

Kenney: Revised travel ban 'instills unnecessary fear' among immigrants

Politics Immigration
Carroll - Mayor Jim Kenney Q&A Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney poses for a photo in his office at City Hall on Jan. 12, 2017.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney renewed his objections Monday to the Trump administration's travel restrictions on select immigrant groups, claiming that the White House's revised ban still fails to prevent crime and creates "unnecessary fear" among immigrant communities in the United States.

President Trump signed a revised travel order on Monday as the original ban, which sparked panic and criticism, remains under court review. The new order removes Iraq from a list of Muslim-majority countries whose visitors will face scrutiny from U.S. immigration officials. A freeze on the nation's refugee program was preserved in the new order.

Under the revised edict, the 90-day ban on entry from six countries—Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya—has been more narrowly focused only to include those who do not possess valid visas or U.S. green cards. New visas from these countries have been banned.

Kenney has staunchly defended Philadelphia's sanctuary status despite threats that federal funding will be withdrawn from cities that refuse to cooperate with Immigration & Customs Enforcement officials. In a statement, the mayor again questioned the intent of the travel order.

I am still greatly concerned that this ban appears to be solely motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment and not by any evidence that this policy will strengthen our national security. While we are still reviewing all the implications of the ban, I believe that this new iteration weakens Philadelphia’s public safety and economic health. This ban instills unnecessary fear in our immigrant populations, who, statistically, are less likely to commit violent crime. If immigrants are too afraid to cooperate with police, then it becomes that much harder for our officers to solve the violent crimes Philadelphians face on a daily basis. Furthermore, this ban sends a harmful message to the immigrants who have helped our economy grow, and the visitors we wish to welcome to our City. At least one conference has already cited this ban as a reason to go abroad rather than come to Philadelphia.

Trump has claimed the travel ban is necessary to prevent new acts of terrorism in the United States. Since taking office, his administration has also increased enforcement efforts to detain and deport undocumented immigrants.

The revised travel ban is set to take effect March 16.