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Photo: Samantha Madera/AL DÍA News

The clock is ticking for Nutter to act on immigration policy

And he's not giving a yes or no answer.

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The hourglass is running out on Mayor Michael Nutter.

He has less than a month left in office to move ahead with the changes he proposed to the executive order on ICE holds, but immigration advocates are demanding an answer now.

Representatives from different immigrant communities are hand-delivering a “people’s executive order” on Wednesday, requesting a decision within 48 hours.

The existing order, which Nutter passed into law 18 months ago, severely limits the cooperation between local law enforcement agencies and federal ICE agents — though it did not completely banish it.

For the last month, pro-immigration groups in Philadelphia have been asking Nutter not to make any changes at all to the policy. Leave it to mayor-elect Jim Kenney to decide, they said. Just days before Thanksgiving, some 85 organizations submitted a joint letter to Nutter suggesting that any changes he makes to the order could potentially “undo the mayor’s most critical step towards establishing Philadelphia as a welcoming city for all immigrants.”

Nutter on Tuesday would not give a yes or no answer to AL DÍA.

“The most I can say at the moment is that we are still reviewing the information about the PEP program and what we would want to do in response to it,” Nutter said. “I think people will have a much better understanding when we roll things out.”

After the federal government ended its Secure Communities Program in 2014, the Obama administration hatched the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP). Unlike Secure Communities, PEP allows ICE target only undocumented persons charged with high-threat crimes for deportation.

Nutter took exception to the widespread understanding that his new changes were “rolling back” the original policy, or that they would be very much different from what PEP proposes.

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“Stop saying that we’re rolling anything back,” Nutter said. “There’s no roll back of anything … Everyone is assuming that there are all these cataclysmic things that are going to happen. It’s just not true.”

But there’s been heavy criticism about the administration's communication throughout this process.

The original closed-door meeting to discuss the proposed changes last month was organized at the last minute, attendees said. (Nutter’s administration would not confirm.) Attendees at the meeting said the changes were meant to be “fast-tracked” before Nutter leaves office. (Nutter said he would wait for input from community stakeholders.)

“He’s saying so many different things. If it’s in review, and if he hates Donald Trump so much, then why doesn’t he keep the current immigration policies?” said Nicole Kligerman of the New Sanctuary movement, referring to Nutter’s recent tirade against the Republican presidential candidate.  “Donald Trump is the one talking, but [Nutter] is the one acting.”

AL DÍA will report back after immigrant groups propose their deadline to Nutter’s office.

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