SCOTUS Deadlock on Obama’s Immigration Plan: Shameful and Wrong

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On November 20, 2014, Philadelphians at Taquitos de Puebla watched President Obama announce his plan to provide deportation relief to undocumented immigrants. | Photos by Sabrina Vourvoulias

One of my most vivid memories in recent years is of the evening of November 20th, 2014, when I was in an overcrowded South Philly eatery watching television. President Barack Obama was on the air, announcing that he was taking executive action to offer temporary deportation relief to an estimated 4 million undocumented people via programs that helped undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents (known was “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans,” or DAPA) as well as undocumented people who arrived in the country before age 16 (extended “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” or DACA+).

Inside Taquitos de Puebla on 9th Street, the atmosphere was electric with hope. Those who qualified would be able to get out of a shadow economy that relies on their labor without according them any protections, and conduct their daily lives without the soul-crushing fear that at any moment agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement could swoop down to deport them.

Almost immediately, the president’s executive actions were challenged legally, and for two years those people with whom I had celebrated that November night carefully banked their hopes and waited as the legal case wound its way through the lower courts to the Supreme Court.

This Thursday, those hopes were dashed after the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 on the issue, a non-decision that effectively lets the lower court’s injunction stand. Read more »

Philly Latino Activists: Obama Is “Deporter-in-Chief”

People assemble for a press conference at Juntos in response to today's Supreme Court ruling on immigration

Members of the Latino immigrant community appear at a press conference decrying today’s Supreme Court ruling on Obama’s immigration program.

According to Philadelphia’s Latino immigrant activists, Barack Obama’s primary legacy from his eight years in office can be summed up in three words: Deporter in chief.

Activists and organizers today gathered at Juntos in South Philly to comment on today’s split ruling from the Supreme Court on President Obama’s immigration policy.

The court actually ruled on a program Obama and immigration activists support today. In a one-sentence decision — “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court” — the court announced it had split, 4-all, which means the Obama administration will not be able to implement its immigration plans before the end of his term. Read more »

New Play Asks: What’s It Actually Like to Be an Immigrant

Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

The current presidential saga has brought the subject of immigration to an unfortunate and incendiary head, but what’s it like to actually be an immigrant?

That’s the idea behind this world premiere from frequent Pig Iron Theatre Company collaborator Emmanuelle Delpech, who emigrated from France to Philadelphia in 1998. Read more »

Face It, Sen. Toomey, You’re a Cafeteria Catholic Like the Rest of Us

Sen. Patrick Toomey, speaks to reporters outside his office in Washington on April 12, 2016.

“I was born and raised Catholic. I am a practicing Catholic. We are active members of our church. Our kids attend Catholic school, so my faith is a part of who I am. What I have learned through faith helps inform my judgment on many, many issues. It’s hard to quantify, but my faith is an important source of informing my judgment.”

The preceding quote is one of Pat Toomey’s responses to a candidates’ questionnaire prepared by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office of Communications and and published in the Catholic Standard & Times October 28, 2010, edition, just prior to the election in which he eked out a victory over Admiral Joe Sestak to claim the U.S. Senate seat for Pennsylvania.

Truth is, no Catholic disputed his religious bona fides — he was outspoken about his pro-life views, and had long been a supporter of school choice and the vouchers that favor archdiocesan education. Since then he’s taken a number of stands that he (and other conservative Catholics) have characterized as safeguarding religious liberties and practice — including efforts to exempt religious employers from carrying insurance that covers birth control and opposing discrimination laws that include LGBTQ protections. He is not — by many Pennsylvania Catholics’ accounting — a “cafeteria Catholic,” that is, someone who has cherry-picked which issues to stand Catholic about.

Well … except for immigration.  Read more »

WATCH: NE Philly Rep. White Clashes with Immigration Activists

Al Día has posted a video showing Northeast Philly State Rep. Martina White yelling at immigrants’ rights activists in her Harrisburg office.

Last month, White introduced a bill that would hold sanctuary cities — ones that bar local cooperation with federal immigration authorities — “liable for damages on account of an injury to a person or property as a result of criminal activity by an unauthorized alien.” Read more »

Bill Would Create Municipal ID in Philly

quinones city hall

Maria Quiñonez-Sanchez

City Hall may soon issue its own “municipal ID” to Philadelphia residents, a new form of identification modeled on programs in New YorkSan Francisco and other big cities with large populations of undocumented immigrants.

Though immigrants aren’t mentioned in the press release Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez issued in support of the legislation — which she introduced at today’s Council meeting — she pointed to New York’s year-old IDNYC program as a model for the Philly effort. That program has been heavily promoted, and heavily covered, as aiding undocumented immigrants in that city, as well as homeless residents who otherwise find it difficult to obtain state-issued IDs.

Sanchez’s effort has the backing of Mayor Jim Kenney.

“There is no question that something must be done to help bring Philadelphians out of the shadows,” Kenney said in the press release. “Our entire city benefits when all of our residents can legally own an apartment, open a bank account, and otherwise participate in our economy and society fully.” Read more »

Pa. “Sanctuary Cities” Could Face Crackdown

martina white

Rep. Martina White

A Philadelphia Republican plans to introduce a state bill that would hold “sanctuary cities” liable for damages and crimes caused by undocumented immigrants — and require local law officers to report migrants to the feds, regardless of city policies. Read more »

Darrell Clarke Is Already Upstaging Mayor Kenney

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

In 48 short hours, newly minted Mayor Jim Kenney has already set a tone that could very well define his next four (or, more likely, eight) years in office. So far, his speeches and actions have underlined his commitments to enact a progressive agenda, serve old and new Philadelphians alike, and maintain a solid relationship with other power players in the city. At the same time, Kenney has been somewhat short on ambition, as if he’s afraid of promising too much and not being able to deliver. Here are five takeaways from Kenney’s first couple days in office: Read more »

The No-Bullshit Guide to Sanctuary Cities

shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

Immigration has been a long-debated issue in American politics, especially in the past decade. However, upon Donald Trump announcing his candidacy for President and calling Mexican immigrants “drug dealers” and “rapists,” the already controversial topic has grown even more contentious.

Most immigration policy is the province of the federal government. But not all. Take sanctuary cities. Loosely defined, these are cities that have decided not to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, or to cooperate at least a little less than the feds would like.

Philadelphia is a sanctuary city. Or at least, it has been one.

The status of sanctuary cities has become a point of debate in the presidential contest, particularly on the GOP side. Louisiana Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal said that mayors of such cities should “absolutely” be arrested.

Now, six weeks before he leaves office, Mayor Michael Nutter is thinking about rolling back Philly’s status as a sanctuary city. But what exactly does the term mean, and what are the details? Here’s everything you need to know. Read more »

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