Watch: Mayor Jim Kenney Talks Sanctuary Cities on “60 Minutes”

Philly's immigration stance was launched into the national spotlight when host Scott Pelley sat down with Kenney to discuss possible federal funding cuts.

A 60 Minutes segment this past Sunday night delved into institutions that are defying President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown – so naturally, the CBS show chose to host Philly Mayor Jim Kenney, an outspoken official in a city that’s garnered national attention for its unyielding immigration stance. 

Kenney sat down with host Scott Pelley to discuss the White House’s threat to revoke funding from Philadelphia and other so-called sanctuary cities (which, despite having no official definition, are largely referred to as cities that do not fully comply with federal immigration laws).

Echoing Trump’s February executive order on immigration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in March that the Department of Justice will not offer grants providing for various law enforcement purposes to cities in defiance of  8 U.S. Code § 1373, which mandates that all jurisdictions must communicate with federal agencies and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

“The feds are talking about taking your money away,” Pelley said to Kenney during the interview. “And Mr. Mayor, I bet you can’t afford that.”

“No, but think about the conundrum that this presented,” Kenney replied. “If you accept the assertion that undocumented immigrants cause crime, which I do not accept and think is wrong, why would you defund police departments?”

Philly has repeatedly stated that it will not back down on its immigration stance – and that it will comply with the government if a judicial warrant is issued for an immigrant’s arrest. City spokesperson Lauren Hitt said in March that the DOJ threat doesn’t put the city at risk of losing funds, as guidelines reiterated by Sessions (8 U.S. Code § 1373) were already in place under former President Barack Obama.

“It’s not us versus them,” Kenney said during 60 Minutes. “This is we upholding the constitution of the United States of America and asking them to comply with it also by presenting us with the proper judicial warrant so we can release that person to their custody.”

The city has until June 30th to send the DOJ documentation proving that it complies with U.S. code. In April, a federal judge blocked Trump’s executive order on immigration, claiming the government does not have the authority to cut “federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement … merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves.”

Watch the full segment on CBS and check out some responses to the interview below.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.