Philadelphians know Mayor Jim Kenney as a man who is passionately pro-immigration. As a Councilman, he told anti-immigration protesters, “You can’t go through life hating.” On his first day as mayor, he signed an executive order making Philadelphia a sanctuary city again. And for years, Kenney has drawn parallels behind the way his Irish ancestors were treated in the 1800s to the way Mexican immigrants are treated today.
Kenney could have chosen to show the nation any number of sides of himself during his speech on Monday at the Democratic National Convention, the most high-profile address of his life so far. He could have talked up his pro-union or feminist bonafides. But with only three minutes to speak, and with the dystopian, dark anti-immigration speeches at last week’s Republican National Convention fresh in his mind, Kenney opted to focus on immigration.
He started his speech by recalling a shameful episode in Philadelphia’s and America’s history: the anti-Catholic riots in the 19th century. Irish Catholics were flooding the city; their numbers ballooned from 35,000 in 1830 to 170,000 in 1850. Nativists opposed the immigrants’ new way of living and worshiping — and they rioted. Read more »