The decision 'reminds everyone of why this city and this country exist — to give safe haven, and hope, to those who flee tyranny, oppression and poverty in other parts of the world.'
The Trump administration used unconstitutional bullying tactics in an attempt to strong-arm Philadelphia to stop being a “sanctuary city.” But Philadelphia fought back, refusing to submit to the racist whims of Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — and they won.
A federal judge said the Trump administration’s attempt to withhold grant funding from Philadelphia because of their sanctuary city policy “violates statutory and constitutional law.” Further, the judge, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, noted the city’s decision to not honor the Trump administration’s demand to identify and report undocumented immigrants was “reasonable, rational” and “equitable.”
In compliance with federal law, Philadelphia “agreed to hand over undocumented immigrants to officers of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency only when provided with a warrant signed by a judge,” as reported by VOA News.
But that wasn’t enough for the Trump administration, which demanded local law enforcement go above and beyond federal law in a way that would damage relationships with immigrant communities and hinder law enforcement efforts to keep everyone safe.
The lawsuit centered on the Department of Justice’s decision to withhold a grant from Philadelphia over the city’s “sanctuary city” status. According to Governing, Philadelphia filed suit in 2017 “saying the Police Department is not an army of immigration enforcement, and that making it tone would damage community relations.”
“It is a ruling that prevents a White House run by a bully from bullying Philadelphia into changing its policies,” Kenney said. “It is a ruling that should make clear to Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions that federal grant dollars cannot be used for political shakedowns.”
But more than a judicial and moral victory over the Trump administration, Kenny emphasized that this ruling was a victory for American values.
“It is, most of all, a ruling that reminds everyone of why this City and this country exist — to give safe haven, and hope, to those who flee tyranny, oppression and poverty in other parts of the world — to be a welcoming nation,” Kenney said.
Unfortunately, Philadelphia is facing anti-immigrant attacks from not only the Trump administration, but from a Republican-led state legislature.
Last February, the Pennsylvania Senate passed SB-10, a bill that would prevent state funds from going to any “sanctuary city.” The ACLU said that the legislation is, “not grounded in the rule of law and is simply the pursuit of an anti-immigrant agenda.”
When the bill passed the state Senate, Kenney opposed the bill and released a scathing statement, asking Pennsylvanians to call out “White House policies that have sent our nation into chaos and threatened the very principles upon which our nation was built codified into Commonwealth law.”
Thus far, the bill has not passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Immigrants are a key component not only to the fabric of Pennsylvania communities, but to the state’s economy.
In 2014, immigrant-owned businesses generated $1.2 billion in business income, and more than 140,000 Pennsylvanians are employed at immigrant-owned firms.
Undocumented immigrants pay an estimated $11.64 billion in state and local taxes every year.
Kenny, who is Irish-American, spoke recently to the need of Americans of all stripes to be welcoming and supportive of today’s immigrant communities.
“If this was Irish immigration now, I might be in a detention center somewhere, or my kids might have been taken away from me,” he said, referencing the Trump administration policy of separating children from their parents. He continued:
“When we came here, the same know-nothings and nativists of the day which exist, are Trump people today, were saying the same things about us: We were criminals, we were good for nothings, we were lowlifes, we were, you know, bad people and we should go back where we came from.
“It’s the same fear, anger and vitriol that my folks experienced generations ago, that Mexicans, and Guatemalans and Hondurans and others are experiencing now — and Africans, and people who are Muslim.”
Immigrants have a long history in Pennsylvania, and Kenney is seeking to make sure the city, and the state, continue to be a welcoming place for immigrants today.
“This [ruling] should reaffirm to our immigrant communities that we are glad you are here, we want you here, and we will always fight to ensure that Philadelphia remains a welcoming city to all,” says Miriam Enriquez, Philadelphia’s director of the office of immigrant affairs.