Why Being a Sanctuary City Makes Sense

On January 25, President Trump released an executive order to strip applicable federal funds from Fourth Amendment cities--better known as sanctuary cities--as well as bar these cities from applying for most federal grants.

Mayor Jim Kenney has reaffirmed that Philadelphia will remain a sanctuary city, stating that the city will avail itself of “every opportunity we have to protect our citizens and protect our people who are living in our city." I side with Mayor Kenney: to rescind our sanctuary city status would ultimately harm our citizens.

A sanctuary city is a city that has adopted a policy of protecting illegal immigrants by not prosecuting them for violating federal immigration laws. This country was built on the backs of immigrants. Today, Philadelphia is six percent foreign-born, which means that most of us have a coworker, a friend, a neighbor, or even a family member who wasn’t born in the United States.

We interact with people from other countries everyday, on public transit, at the supermarket, at the gym, at our children’s schools for those of us who have children. And we experience the new ideas they bring, in restaurants and venues around the city.

Each and every one of us chose to either stay here, or come here in the first place. We are united in our dedication to the American--and in this case, Philadelphian--way of life.

Trump’s new order is meant to address our criminal justice system. Proponents of Trump’s executive order argue that the new policy will cut down on crime. However, immigration and violent crime are statistically unrelated.

If anything, newer research indicates that immigration might actually be decreasing the national crime rate. Additionally, in a number of cases, the risk of deportation is enough to dissuade undocumented immigrants from reporting crimes that are committed against them or that they themselves witnessed.

In Philadelphia, like every other city and town across America, if someone is arrested for a misdemeanor like disorderly conduct, the person will be sent to county jail where their fingerprints will be taken and sent to the FBI. The FBI will then send the inmate’s prints to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Once ICE receives the prints, it’s up to the city/county to give ICE a warrant to hold the inmate in jail in order to start the deportation process. As a sanctuary city, Philadelphia rejects these requests from ICE for any inmate who commits a misdemeanor.

Here’s where this issue starts to become pertinent to our local economy and budget. Philadelphia could potentially lose millions of dollars of federal funding because of its stance as a sanctuary city. While these cuts, if they take place, could be damaging, the city needs to stand up for its residents.

Economically, immigration benefits the city. In fact, every year it pumps $4.7 billion into the American economy through the labor market. And despite popular belief, immigrants don’t “steal jobs” from Americans. In fact, “high-skill” immigrants have an especially positive impact on the economy as they spur innovation, helping to create jobs.

We are the City of Brotherly Love, so we will stand by our neighbors, regardless of immigration status, and we will fight and adapt if necessary.