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Mayor Kenney exits the Academy of Music after his inauguration Monday. Photo: Peter Fitzpatrick / AL DÍA News

On his first day, Kenney keeps promise to immigrants

As he said he would, Kenney reversed the policy on ICE holds recently put in place by his predecessor.

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Just hours after he was inaugurated Monday at the Academy of Music, Mayor Jim Kenney reversed a controversial immigration policy that was put into place by his predecessor, former Mayor Michael Nutter, in the eleventh hour of his tenure.

The policy deals with cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. Nutter's order, which he shotgunned into effect between Nov. and Dec. 2015, permitted city officials to comply with detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement — a.k.a. ICE holds — under a variety of circumstances. Almost all of them pertained to undocumented persons who were convicted of a felony crime, but there was one vague caveat for any individual "suspected of terrorism or espionage," which would require no conviction.

Immigrant rights advocates viewed Nutter's last-minute policy change as a betrayal. It effectively undid Philadelphia's status as a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented persons.

From day one, Kenney, a longtime champion of 'sanctuary' Philadelphia, vowed to overturn Nutter's changes. And on Monday he kept that promise.

Executive Order 5-16 states that city authorities will not cooperate with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests for undocumented citizens who are arrested and would have otherwise been released from custody, unless the individual has committed a first or second degree felony involving violence. This executive order also rescinds Executive Order 7-15 (Policy Regarding U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency Detainer and Notification Requests in Instances of Terrorism or Violence).

Local stakeholders were swift in their gratitude. Juntos, a Latino immigrant advocacy group based in South Philly, has been lobbying the Nutter administration over its 'sanctuary' policies for several years.

El nuevo alcalde firmó ahora la orden ejecutiva que de nuevo separa la polimigra! Gracias Alcalde Kenney por siempre...

Posted by Vamos Juntos on Monday, January 4, 2016

It was just one of six executive orders the new mayor signed on his first day in office, the rest of which can be read about here.

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