5 Takeaways From the Joyous, Weird Scene at Independence Mall

A crowd fills the Independence Mall as Pope Francis speaks in front of Independence Hall, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A crowd fills the Independence Mall as Pope Francis speaks in front of Independence Hall, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Follow Philadelphia magazine’s live coverage of Pope Francis’s historic visit all weekend long.

Independence Mall was a chaotic, bizarre, beautiful place on Saturday. Pope Francis delivered a rousing speech on immigration and religious freedom there in the afternoon, but that was far from the only memorable thing that happened. Here are five takeaways from a day at the historic site:

1. Philadelphia is truly an international city right now.

Before the pope showed up to deliver his speech, Chinese dancers, African drummers and salsa musicians entertained the crowd for hours. Walking around, I heard more non-English languages than I heard English, and officials who took to the stage always got a bigger applause when they spoke in Spanish. People were waving flags from loads of different countries. Seeing this all near Independence Hall, where our country got its start, was pretty special. Read more »

Chaput Slams Trump on Immigration

Chaput Trump

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput assailed GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on Tuesday, saying Trump’s rhetoric on immigration “plays on our worst fears and resentments.”

The comments were reported by the Associated Press, which said they were “prepared for a church forum that was part of the run-up of activities to a visit by Pope Francis.”

In those comments, Chaput disputed Trump’s proposal to end “birthright citizenship” — the automatic granting of citizenship to babies born on American soil, even if their parents are illegally.

“This is a profoundly bad idea,” Chaput said. Read more »

The Brief: Another Water Main Broke in West Philly



1. It’s the summer of water main breaks.

The gist: A 12-inch water main broke in West Philadelphia on Tuesday evening, according to 6ABC. It led to interruptions in SEPTA’s trolley service, and traffic had to be shut down in some areas surrounding 33rd and Market streets. Not much information beyond that is currently available in media reports. Read more »

Philadelphia Customs Agent Arrested for Stealing from Deportees

Justin Ford, Philadelphia Police Department mugshot

Justin Ford, Philadelphia Police Department mugshot

On February 24th, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Justin Ford met with Philadelphia police to take a prisoner facing deportation into custody and transfer him to York County Prison. But what he didn’t know is that the prisoner was actually an undercover Philadelphia police officer. Read more »

Immigrants Are Saving the Italian Market

Photograph by Matt Stanley

Photograph by Matt Stanley

The millennials get all the press whenever Philadelphia’s population growth comes up, but the city’s booming immigrant communities are actually doing as much or more to power the city’s revival.

This is a new and heartening development for Philadelphia. The city’s share of foreign-born residents fell dramatically between 1960 and 1990, even as immigrant populations in other U.S. cities grew. Read more »

Nutter Joins Mayors Backing Obama on Immigration


Mayor Nutter has joined with mayors of two dozen other large American cities to offer President Obama support in his efforts to reduce deportations of immigrants residing illegally in the United States.

Cities United for Immigration Action announced its existence today.

“The president’s action on immigration will strengthen our cities. It will keep families together, grow our economies and foster additional community trust in law enforcement and government,” the coalition said in a statement. “We are ready — and together we’re rolling up our sleeves to turn this policy into a better reality for millions of hardworking people in the communities we serve.”

Read more »

Daryl Metcalfe’s Bad Religion


Let’s give this to Daryl Metcalfe: If you wanted to create a religious-right bogeyman that almost perfectly fit the fevered nightmares of liberals, he’d pretty closely fit the bill.

Metcalfe is the Pennsylvania Republican probably best known for silencing openly gay Rep. Brian Sims on the House floor last year because Sims’ comments in favor of gay marriage would’ve been “against God’s law.”

“I’m a Christian,” Metcalfe said at the time. “Based on the command of Jesus Christ, of Almighty God, I love my fellow man. I work to protect their liberties.”

Unless, of course, his fellow man is an immigrant. Or somebody trying to help an immigrant. Or, worse yet, someone trying to help an immigrant child. Then Metcalfe’s love somehow disappears.

Read more »

Darryl Metcalfe Moves to Block Immigrant Children from Pennsylvania

You’ve probably heard by now about all those immigrant children who have arrived at America’s southern border this year. Rep. Darryl Metcalfe has, and he wants Pennsylvania to have nothing to do with them. So he’s proposing a bill that would threaten the state license of any care facility that houses any such children in cooperation with federal officials. There are hundreds of such children being housed in the state.

Read more »

Activists: Immigration Enforcement Shifting to Philly Suburbs

Immigration authorities have moved the bulk of their enforcement activities to the suburbs since Mayor Nutter ended cooperation with the feds during the spring, an immigrant-rights group reports.

“In some counties ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) meets with the district attorney twice per week,” said Jasmine Rivera, lead organizer for Juntos, a Philadelphia immigrant-rights organization. “In Chester county the juvenile court system reports all undocumented juveniles to ICE. Driver’s license check-points are used to identify undocumented immigrants. And we have noticed an increase of arrests in the suburbs of Philadelphia, where there are no ICE hold policies”
Read more »

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