Philly’s ‘Sanctuary City’ Label Led to More Arrests

‘Sanctuary city’ is a term used to refer to any jurisdiction that does not actively assist immigration law enforcement. Although immigration law enforcement is exclusively a federal responsibility, states have been criticized by the President, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for their non-cooperation. However, cities such as Philadelphia have their own reasons for implementing immigrant-friendly policies.

Philadelphia became known as a sanctuary city due to its policies that prohibit the introduction of immigration status into a criminal investigation and the honoring of ICE appeals to hold undocumented immigrants in custody for 48 hours. The Philadelphia city solicitor explains that the city has a greater interest in reducing crime than in facilitating immigration requests. City officials do not want to deter people from coming forward with information for fear of being reported to ICE.

Early in his presidency, President Trump issued an executive order stating that sanctuary jurisdictions are willful violators of federal law that have caused immeasurable harm to both the American people and the fabric of our republic. In the past year, the term, ‘sanctuary jurisdictions’ has been increasingly used by pro-immigrant groups in their efforts to promote more immigrant-friendly policies. Sanctuary cities have also come to represent safe harbor and a symbol of migrant justice throughout the country, according to activists.

The Effects of States’ Non-Cooperation with Immigration Enforcement

A U.S. District judge recently ruled that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) could not place conditions of cooperation with immigration enforcement upon Philadelphia’s public safety grants. Philadelphia sued the DOJ when the Department withheld $1.6 million in overdose-prevention public safety grants because the city had not satisfied three conditions. The judge ruled that Philadelphia had satisfied the first condition of proving that it shared information with DHS, but that the other two requirements – giving ICE complete access to city jails and giving 48-hours’ notice before releasing someone for whom ICE requested notice – were likely unconstitutional.

ICE officials state that such non-cooperation has made it more difficult for them to do their jobs because they are forced to conduct more dangerous, at-large arrests in sanctuary city communities. An operation recently conducted by federal immigration enforcement called Operation Safe City resulted in the public arrests of 107 people in a span of four days. Of all the targeted sanctuary jurisdictions, Philadelphia had the most arrests. Also, according to ICE officials, the number of people arrested across Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia rose from 3,600 in 2016 to 5,000 in 2017 despite ‘sanctuary city’ status.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Handle All Types of Immigration Issues

If you have an immigration issue, contact an experienced Philadelphia immigration attorney at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Our attorneys are knowledgeable in all aspects of immigration law and can help you get results in all types of immigration cases, including removal, deportation asylum, appeals, family visas, business visas, employment and work visas, non-immigrant visas, labor certifications and abuse petitions. Contact us online or call us at 215-925-4435 or toll-free at 888-452-9578 for a confidential consultation.