Nutter, Kenney Back Wolf’s Welcome of Syrian Refugees

Outgoing and incoming mayor on the same page.

Jim Kenney and Mayor Nutter. | City Council Flickr

Jim Kenney and Mayor Nutter. | City Council Flickr

The cause of Syrian refugees has become controversial in the wake of last weekend’s terrorist attacks in Paris, but Philadelphia’s incoming and outgoing mayors both say they would welcome such refugees to the city.

Mayor Nutter joins Gov. Wolf in supporting the relocation of refugees from Syria to Pennsylvania and Philadelphia,” spokesman Mark McDonald said today in response to a Philadelphia inquiry.

Lauren Hitt, a spokesman for Mayor-Elect Jim Kenney, noted that Kenney had offered a statement supporting Wolf early in the week. 

“Philadelphia has a long history of being a city of refuge for those in need — welcoming Quakers, Irish immigrants, Sudanese refugees and many others,” Kenney said in a statement released Monday. “I applaud Governor Wolf’s decision to work with the federal government to properly screen and resettle Syrian refugees in Pennsylvania. In keeping with our city’s history, I look forward to working with him and welcoming refugees seeking a safe home to Philadelphia.”

Philadelphia is part of the Cities United for Immigration Action coalition, which in September sent a letter signed by 18 big-city mayors to President Obama, offering to welcome such refugees. Nutter’s name wasn’t on that letter — McDonald noted it was sent during the city’s preparations for Pope Francis.

Since Paris, however, more than 30 governors have vowed their states will not receive Syrian refugees, citing a fear of terrorism. Pennsylvania’s Gov. Tom Wolf has proven a rare exception. 

McDonald said Nutter is joining other mayors in pushing back. “We are a signatory to a letter coming from the (U.S. Conference of Mayors) to Congress saying that the organization, of which Mayor Nutter is a former president, urges Congress to resist the urge to ‘halt the entry of refugees, particularly Syrian refugees, to this nation.’”

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