Kenney stands with immigration activists against 'Donald Trump Act'
Despite the scorching summer heat, about thirty immigration activists gathered Wednesday at LOVE Park to speak out against a bill that would limit federal aid to 22 sanctuary cities across the U.S. Under the bill, which just passed in Congress, Philadelphia stands to lose $5 to $6 million in annual aid if it continues Mayor Michael Nutter’s limited cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Democratic mayoral nominee Jim Kenney joined activist groups like Juntos and New Sanctuary Movement in defense of the city’s sanctuary status and Nutter’s policies. Formally known as the “Enforce the Law in Sanctuary Cities” bill, others have dubbed it “The Donald Trump Act.” To that key, Kenney argued that constitutional law “trumps” ICE’s local requests.
"I don't understand the difficulty with federal agencies who have all of the capacity to get a judge to sign a warrant not to want to sign a warrant," said Kenney, who wrote an op-ed column Tuesday for AL DÍA on the issue. "If we have a warrant, we hold them. If they don't feel it necessary to get one, we can't hold somebody against their will according to the Constitution."
The killing of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco last month by an undocumented immigrant relit the national debate around immigration policies. Presidential candidates — most notably, Republican business magnate Donald Trump — have made incendiary remarks about Latino immigrants, and called for stricter enforcement policies.
The local Republican party has brought the issue to our local stage. Two weeks ago, Republican candidate for mayor Melissa Murray Bailey came out against Philadelphia’s sanctuary status. She has since doubled down on her remarks.
Activists, however, have been doggedly addressing the direct and indirect effects programs like Secure Communities.
“Committees organized to fight against these policies across the country and they succeeded,” said Maria Castaneda from Juntos. “To go back and repeat these destructive policies only opens up possibilities for more abuses against our communities, while avoiding the deeper cost of violence.”
Kenney pointed out that fatal shootings happen every day by documented citizens. He said the government should not “scapegoat” immigrants just because the San Francisco shooter had been deported five times. If the bill passes in the house, Kenney said he would forego federal aid in favor of immigrant rights.
"We are all for the safety in the streets and in our communities," Kenney said."We will hold people at the request of the federal government when they have a warrant for them to be held. I also wish the United States Congress would be as animated and energetic about gun violence and education as they are about holding immigrants without a warrant.”