Kenney Vows to Keep “Sanctuary City” Status

Despite GOP criticism, Democrat says immigrants pose few crime problems.

Jim Kenney | Photo by Jeff Fusco

Jim Kenney | Photo by Jeff Fusco

Jim Kenney , the Democratic nominee and presumptive next mayor of Philadelphia, says the city will continue its “sanctuary city” policy of non-compliance with federal immigration authorities.

“As a Philadelphia City Councilman, I joined my colleagues in calling for an end to our city’s compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests in February of 2014,” Kenney wrote for Al Día, a dual-language news organization serving Philly’s Latino community. “At the time, the federal government could request that the City detain an individual for up to 48 hours without any proof of their illegal immigration status. Today, Philadelphia no longer holds undocumented offenders who have not committed first or second degree felonies, unless ICE obtains a judicial warrant.

“If I am elected mayor in November, that policy will continue.”

Kenney has come under criticism from Melissa Murray Bailey, the Republican nominee for mayor, on the immigration issue. “By de­clar­ing Phil­adelphia a sanc­tu­ary city and not de­tain­ing il­leg­al im­mig­rants who have been con­victed of a vi­ol­ent crime, we are put­ting the cit­izens of Phil­adelphia at risk,” she told the Northeast Times earlier this month.

But Kenney rejected that approach.

“One does not need to be a public policy expert to understand that is nearly impossible to effectively run a city when a large segment of the population has no legal path out of poverty or fears the police too much to report violent crimes,” he wrote.

“Even ignoring the cost of civil rights lawsuits that could result, full cooperation with ICE puts a significant strain on police time and resources that keeps relatively few violent criminals off the street.”

Kenney is expected to be on hand for an immigration-related press conference later today.