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Immigrant rights activists pray over protesters outside of City Hall on Dec. 11, 2015, in protest of the proposed changes to the executive order on ICE detainers. Photo: Max Marin/AL DÍA News
Immigrant rights activists pray over protesters outside of City Hall on Dec. 11, 2015, in protest of the proposed changes to the executive order on ICE detainers. Photo: Max Marin/AL DÍA News

It's official: Nutter has signed a new policy on ICE holds

Nutter signed a new executive order detailing the city's cooperation with federal immigration officials.

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Mayor Michael Nutter announced Tuesday that he has "updated" his executive order that limits the city's cooperation with federal immigration agents. The news stung immigrant advocacy groups, who have been pressuring Nutter to defer any changes to incoming mayor-elect Jim Kenney.

The original order, which Nutter signed in early 2014, stated that the city would not respond to detainer requests - also known as ICE holds - from the country's federal immigration agency. The policy meant that city would no longer keep immigrants in police or prison custody at the request of federal immigration and customs enforcement (ICE).

Under the new order, the city will consider responding to an ICE hold request if: 

  • The person is suspected of terrorism or espionage
  • Or has been convicted of first degree felonies like murder, rape, robbery, unlawful possession of a firearms or criminal street gang activity.
  • Or if the person is being released and had a prior conviction on any of these serious felonies.

Moreover, the changes will include the implementation of a 15-person review board for certain cases. He also promised to disclose all communications between the city and ICE in a monthly report to the public.

Immigrant rights advocates saw the news coming, but it came as no less of a shock. Members of New Sanctuary Movement and Juntos, a South Philadelphia-based organization that advocates for Latino immigrants, were temporarily barred from entering City Hall as a result of their protest two weeks ago against these very changes.

At first, Nutter said he would only take questions from the press. Before he left he took a question from Erika Almiron, the executive director of Juntos. As he moved to end the press conference, the mayor was barraged by more questions from community stakeholders. He left the room to a fusillade of disapproving remarks.

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