Bill against 'sanctuary cities' set to vote on Wednesday
A controversial immigration bill introduced by Republican Senator Pat Toomey is scheduled for a vote at the U.S. Senate today. The proposed law would strip millions of federal funding from “sanctuary cities.”
If approved, the bill would punish cities and municipalities like Philadelphia, that prohibit local law enforcement officials from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.
Mayor Jim Kenney responded to Toomey’s proposed legislation, calling it a “bill pulled straight from Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant playbook.”
“The City of Philadelphia does cooperate with the federal government in the case of suspected terrorism, when the individual has been charged with a federal crime and when the individual in question has committed violent first or second degree felonies. Senator Toomey’s inaccurate claims to the contrary are nothing more than fear mongering to further his reelection campaign and to distract from his record of supporting funding cuts to the police,” Kenney said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Democrat nominee Katie McGinty asked Mayor Kenney to rethink his policy, “nudging the city to increase communication with federal immigration officials,” Political reported.
“My view is that Sen. Toomey has politicized this critical issue,” McGinty told reporters on Tuesday. “This is a senator who has repeatedly voted against giving local law enforcement [the tools] they need to do their job, and has voted decidedly against common-sense and bipartisan immigration reform.”
The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 40 of the nation’s preeminent Latino advocacy organizations, wrote to members of the Senate strongly opposing the so-called “Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act.”
“These enforcement-only piecemeal bills are political opportunism at their worst. They reinforce false assumptions about immigrants that are fanned for political purposes. The truth is that immigrants are less likely to be involved in crime than native-born Americans and these bills do nothing to truly promote public safety,” said Hector Sanchez, NHLA Chair and Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. “Senators should reject these offensive bills and then get to work on serious immigration reform.”
Back in May, eight Pennsylvania mayors representing diverse communities including Philadelphia, Lancaster and State College, sent a letter to Senator Pat Toomey urging him to address the broken immigration system.
Dear Senator Toomey,
We write to you as mayors of cities and towns across Pennsylvania.
As you well know, we are a nation of immigrants. Immigrants have made our country strong, and contributed greatly to our communities, culture, economy and much more.
But as you also know, our current immigration system is broken. We see this firsthand every day in the communities with which we serve. Our broken immigration system is harmful to our economy, divides families and communities, and runs directly counter to the ideals our country was founded on.
The problems with our current immigration system were many decades in the making. While many were willing to acknowledge the troubles with our immigration system, few elected leaders were actually willing to work together to find solutions.
We were encouraged in 2013 when Senators on both sides of the aisle worked on a comprehensive immigration reform bill, which would have been a major step forward for communities like ours and the country as a whole. It would have boosted our economy, enhanced border security, and strengthened our legal immigration system. Notably, comprehensive immigration reform would have provided the solution and guidance for law enforcement that would make the very debate over sanctuary cities irrelevant.
However, instead of supporting this bipartisan legislation, you voted against it.
Your vote against comprehensive immigration reform was inexcusable. If you were serious about fixing our broken immigration system, you would have joined the bipartisan coalition along with businesses, labor, faith leaders, the tech industry and many others in support of this legislation.
Senator Toomey, your solutions to fixing our broken immigration system to date range from supporting a discriminatory Arizona law that permitted racial profiling and co-sponsoring legislation that would defund police departments across the country. You even voted against legislation that would have provided the solution to sanctuary cities – the very issue you and your campaign now wish to politicize.
Enough with the inflammatory and misleading rhetoric, Senator Toomey. It's past time for you to get serious about fixing the problem and move past the expected political games. The people of this Commonwealth deserve better from you.
C. Kim Bracey, Mayor of York
Carolyn Comitta, Mayor of West Chester
Elizabeth Goreham, Mayor of State College
J. Richard Gray, Mayor of Lancaster
Jim Kenney, Mayor of Philadelphia
Josh Maxwell, Mayor of Downingtown
Rohan K. Hepkins, Mayor of Yeadon
Salvatore J. Panto, Jr., Mayor of Easton