Pa. “Sanctuary Cities” Could Face Crackdown

Rep. Martina White pushes back against Philly immigration policies.

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.

Rep. Martina White announced her plans Wednesday in a memo to colleagues. Her action comes after Mayor Jim Kenney renewed Philly’s sanctuary city status, barring most cooperation between the city’s law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities. Activists said such cooperation made immigrants fear reporting crimes to local authorities.

White’s proposed bill “would hold any municipality that has deemed themselves as a ‘sanctuary municipality’ liable for damages to persons or property as a result of criminal activity by unauthorized aliens,” she wrote.

Such cities would be liable if the person committing the crime was an undocumented migrant, a resident of a sanctuary city, and convicted of the crime that caused damages.

White’s bill would also make it illegal for municipalities to restrict employees from exchanging immigration-status information with federal officials.

“Under this legislation, if a law enforcement officer of a municipality has reasonable cause to believe that an individual that is being arrested is not legally present in the United States, he shall immediately report the individual to the appropriate United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office within the Department of Homeland Security,” White wrote.

Kenney was unmoved by the legislation. His spokeswoman, Lauren Hitt, said Kenney had urged federal immigration officials to meet with local communities to ease fears over local-federal cooperation.

“Until that happens, the mayor believes any perceived cooperation between ICE and the PPD is counterproductive to public safety efforts,” Hitt said via email.

She added: “Additionally, the mayor urges our state legislators to keep focused on passing a budget.”

See the text of White’s proposed bill below.