BREAKING NEWS: Mayor Nutter Prioritizes Politics Over Immigrant Communities!

For Immediate Release: Friday, November 13, 2015

Mayor Nutter Prioritizes Politics Over Immigrant Communities

Who: The Philadelphia Family Unity Network, The Shut Down Berks Coalition, Immigrant leaders, Advocates, Community Organizations, Lawyers and Religious Leaders
What: Press Conference
When: Monday, November 16th, 11am
Where: North side of City Hall, Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA – November 20th, 2015 will mark the one year anniversary of Obama’s announcement on immigration in which he created Deferred Action for Parents of American Citizens (DAPA). Despite the promise of relief from deportations for millions of families, the attack on immigrants continues. This last year has brought not only disappointment and continued deportations, but hate mongering from Presidential hopefuls that inspired anti-immigrant bills in Congress and in Harrisburg. In Pennsylvania, we have also seen the prolonged, unjust and inhumane detention of families in the Berks Family Detention Center where infants have been detained as young as 11 days old with an unlawful license and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to terrorize our communities in Philadelphia and across the state.

On Thursday, November 12th, the Nutter Administration held a closed door meeting with Philadelphia immigrant rights organizations, including the Philadelphia Family Unity Network, in regards to the City’s collaboration with ICE. The Administration announced that it intends to roll back the historic Executive Order limiting City interactions with ICE, passed on April 2014, by introducing provisions that re-establish these communications.

Members of the immigrant community, the Philadelphia Family Unity Network, the Shut Down Berks Coalition and allies will be holding a press conference Monday, November 16th at 11am at City Hall to address this latest development as well as the state and national anti-immigrant attacks.

We are heartbroken that the Nutter Administration wants to reverse this groundbreaking policy and once again use local law enforcement as an arm of the federal deportation system. The proposed changes will increase the number of deportations of Philadelphia residents and will erode the trust building begun between immigrant communities and local law enforcement since the Executive Order was signed and implemented. What community members will hear is that the administration has gone back on their word and that local law enforcement will once again serve as immigration agents. These proposed provisions also contradict our City’s values of honoring the dignity of each individual, redemption, second chances, and the ability of human beings to change, by subjecting Philadelphia residents to double punishment by deporting them after they have served their time. Mayor Nutter must listen to immigrant communities, advocates, and allies, and stand strong in his support for a policy that has made our communities safer.

Only seven months ago, Nutter stood with community in City Hall, and after listening to the story of Maria Elena Cardenas, a mother of two who had just lost her husband Pablo to a deportation just days before, said, “I can’t imagine that a real elected official, someone who really believes in public service, would think that it was good policy to rip a family apart. Somehow, some way, at least to me, that appears to be completely in contradiction to this great country that we all love called the United States of America. We still have work to do.”

A month later the city made it clear it had no intention of resuming cooperation with ICE requests. In an interview with the LA Times, City Managing Director Richard Negrin said, “The broader Latino community loses confidence when they see us treating new Philadelphians that way, I think it makes us less safe (to cooperate with ICE), to be honest.”

We need public officials at the local, state and national level that will take a stand against hate toward immigrants and towards people of color. We must stand together to stop the criminalization, detention and deportation of our communities.

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The Philadelphia Family United Network members include 1Love Movement, Juntos, New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition and Victim/Witness Services of South Philadelphia.

The Shut Down Berks Campaign is a grassroots coalition fighting to shut down the Berks County Detention Center immediately and end family detention. Members include Detention Watch Network, GALAEI, Juntos, #Not1More, Migrant Power Movement, PICC, UUPlan and We Belong Together.

Community Reactions

“For a year now, our communities have waited for relief but what we have experienced has been continued criminalization, the unlawful detention of our families in centers like Berks and continued anti-immigrant attacks from not just right wing conservatives but now, from Mayor Nutter himself. As his legacy is being determined and with only six weeks left in his administration, Mayor Nutter is planning to institute policy changes that will cause irreparable damage to thousands of Philadelphians from immigrant backgrounds in what can only be seen as political posturing. If Mayor Nutter wants to affirm a legacy he can be proud of, he must keep his word to our community, not throw us under the bus in the 11th hour.” – Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos

“Sending a clear message that the Philadelphia Police Department can and will do their job without ICE involvement is critical.  If we want communities to build relationships with police, to invest in this City, we can’t make it the City’s job to do ICE’s.  Whatever imagined gains rolling back the Executive Order would provide are lost when you lose the trust and engagement of your residents.” – Alison Sprague, M.S.S., Executive Director, Victim/Witness Services of South Philadelphia, Inc.

“There exists, in our country, a mass incarceration and mass deportation crisis. These systems work together to remove people from our communities and break families apart. We believe in our right to remain together, and our individual and community capacity as human beings to grow, transform, and heal in ways that address the root causes of violence. These proposed provisions reverse the path of progression in Philadelphia.” – Mia-lia Kiernan, 1Love Movement.

“As people of faith, we’re outraged by this announcement. Mayor Nutter choosing his own political career over families is a violation of our faith values of giving second chances, reconciliation, and family unity. Our members feel that this move is a stab in the back after suffering through countless deportations and six years of hard community organizing to keep their families safer.” -Peter Pedemonti, New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia

“After a summer of our communities facing targeted, hateful messages from national leaders, it is painful to see our Mayor, who stood with immigrant communities only a year ago, cave to anti-immigrant voices by proposing to once again support ICE policies that tear apart our families and communities.” – Sundrop Carter, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition