When exactly did Democrats get the impression they are allowed to pick and choose which laws to enforce?
“The pernicious impact” of federal immigration enforcement “on certain communities in Philadelphia” is pushing the city to curtail police cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, public safety director Michael Resnick said Wednesday.
At a City Council hearing packed to the balcony benches with immigrant-rights groups, Resnick said Mayor Nutter soon will sign an executive order barring police and prison officials from honoring immigration detainers, except when a suspect in custody was previously convicted of a violent felony, and ICE obtained a warrant to support the detainer request.
An earlier draft, a copy of which was obtained by The Inquirer, would have upheld detainers for people arrested and accused of a violent crime, but not yet tried.
“In its current draft form,” Resnick told Council’s Committee on Public Safety Wednesday, the initiative “resolves the issue of individuals being detained merely at the request of ICE officials.”
Philadelphia’s new policy “is huge. It’s historic,” said Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez. “It shows what cities can do until Congress deals with comprehensive immigration reform.”
Councilman James Kenney said local police should not be doing the work of federal agents.
“When two young Mexican kids get into a fistfight and get hauled off to the 4th [police] District and there’s an ICE agent waiting in the lobby. That’s not right,” he said.
Resnick cited “the tireless work of the advocate community” for prompting the new draft.
Yet some advocates said in testimony and interviews after the three-hour hearing that the new draft does not go far enough.
“Ask the mayor to change his mind and end all ICE holds,” testified Vera Tolbert, past president of the Union of Liberian Associations in America.
Across America advocacy groups have pushed municipalities to modify data-sharing and law-enforcement relationships between police and ICE.
When police implement an ICE hold they book a defendant, share his fingerprints with ICE, and instead of releasing him to face charges as they ordinarily do, they detain him for 48 hours so ICE agents can investigate and interrogate.