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July 27, 2018

Philadelphia to end PARS agreement with ICE

Mayor Kenney said he 'cannot in good conscience allow the agreement to continue'

Philadelphia Immigration
Carroll - City Hall Center Square Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

William Penn envisioned Centre Square as the center of Philadelphia, complete with a meeting house, a marketplace and a state house. His plan never fully came to fruition but City Hall today is the center of Philadelphia government. This is a view of City Hall and Dilworth Park from the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton.

Philadelphia officials announced Friday that the city will discontinue U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement access to its real-time arrest database.

By agreement, ICE is using the Police Department’s Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System (PARS). But it will lose access on August 31, the day the agreement expires, after the city decided not to renew the contract, it was revealed by Mayor Jim Kenney and City Solicitor Marcel Pratt.

“For some time now we have been concerned that ICE uses PARS in inappropriate ways, including to conduct investigations that result in immigration enforcement against law-abiding Philadelphia residents,” Kenney said in a release issued by his office Friday afternoon. 

“My Administration engaged in dialogue with ICE in recent weeks about its use of PARS data, and rather than allay these concerns, ICE officials in fact confirmed many of them. Such practices sow fear and distrust in Philadelphia’s great immigrant community, and make it more difficult for our Police Department to solve crimes. I cannot in good conscience allow the agreement to continue.”

According to the release, in a July 18 meeting with city officials, ICE officials confirmed that its use of PARS could result in immigration enforcement against city residents who hadn’t been accused of or convicted of a crime.

The announcement of the decision comes 25 days after a citywide protest calling for ICE to be abolished, and specifically calling for the end of Philadelphia’s relationship with ICE and the Berks County Residential Center, and the non-renewal on the PARS agreement. The protests led to 29 people arrested outside the Philadelphia offices of ICE.


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Since July 6, protesters have been camped outside City Hall. On July 25, a number of them occupied a stairwell in City Hall in an attempt to get Kenney’s attention and push for a meeting with leaders of the Occupy ICE PHL movement.

According to the Twitter account Liberation Project, another account dedicated to the Occupy ICE PHL movement, Kenney eventually agreed to meet with leaders on Friday afternoon.

Ultimately, the announcement to end the PARS agreement came before that meeting.


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