Dear Melissa, you're wrong about sanctuary cities
Dear Melissa Murray Bailey,
Hi there. We’re writing you today to let you know that we have been following your candidacy closely, and applaud the energy evinced by your decision to run for mayor.
Diversity of thought and life experience is a tremendous boon to the American political process, and your desire to serve for the common good in a public office is something that deserves to be celebrated across party lines notwithstanding generational, racial, socio-economic or ideological difference.
Also, good job reminding the media that the mayoral race isn’t won yet — we admire those whose dreams and aspirations will not be circumscribed by naysayers.
But we have a bone to pick with you.
Last Friday you announced that, if you were elected mayor of Philadelphia, you’d make sure Philadelphia was not a “sanctuary city” — by which we understand you to mean the current limitations on police collaborations with ICE would be rescinded. We note that you are not the only politician who has had this sort of reaction to the horrific killing of Katherine Steinle , allegedly by José Inez García Zarate (an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco) — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has had tough words for San Francisco law enforcement, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has used the tragedy to double down on his characterization of all Mexican and Latino immigrants as rapists and criminals.
While you might not have intended to say the same thing as the Donald, your suggestion that Philadelphia go back to police collaboration with ICE relies on the same projection of criminality of one individual onto many.
We believe — being folks who give the benefit of the doubt — that this is born of lack of information, or trust in bad information, rather than the bad faith pandering to bias that Trump has engaged in. So, we want to draw your attention to the 30-year study that shows that as immigration increases, violent crime decreases — between 1990 and 2013 the violent crime rate fell by a whopping 48 percent.
Moreover, the American Immigration Council notes: “A variety of different studies using different methodologies have found that immigrants are less likely than the native-born to engage in either violent or nonviolent “antisocial” behaviors. .. and that immigrant youth who were students in U.S. middle and high schools in the mid-1990s and are now young adults have among the lowest delinquency rates of all young people.”
So much for the one representing the all ....
Now, onto what you’ve said you’d eliminate: an analysis of data from Secure Communities (the program you seek to reinstate) released by DHS shows that the program overlooks due process, allows no access to legal counsel, disproportionately detains Latinos (93 percent of those detained) and has picked up thousands of U.S. citizens simply on the suspicion that they might be an out-of-status immigrant.
In fact, according to findings by the Warren Institute at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Law, racial profiling is so intrinsic a part of the Secure Communities program, those who studied the sampling of over 1,500 cases turned over by DHS recommended the program be suspended everywhere. In every municipality, not just ours.
In a Philadelphia, with Secure Communities, someone who looks like you or your opponent, Jim Kenney, has nothing to worry about, whereas someone who looks like Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez or State Representative Ángel Cruz can be detained indefinitely, even for something as innocuous as a traffic violation.
Justice for some is no motto for any city to adopt. Or reinstate.