Is Philadelphia More Immigrant-Friendly Than San Francisco?

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Does Philly's Michael Nutter have more spine than Gavin Newsom?
Philadelphia's deputy mayor said yesterday that his city will likely cease cooperating with federal immigration officials by sharing records of local arrests, a policy change that would put it in the vanguard of so-called "sanctuary cities" for undocumented immigrants.

Philadelphia's stance, which is expected to be announced formally this week, would contrast with the stricter approach San Francisco has adopted under Mayor Gavin Newsom. Last year, the Board of Supervisors passed legislation that would have barred local law-enforcement officials from reporting arrested immigrants to the federal government until after they were convicted of a felony, but Newsom refused to enforce the law.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, however, appears poised to take a more combative position.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

Philadelphia is expected to end the arrangement that permits federal immigration agents to scrutinize the city's computerized list of arrests, including country of origin and other data, Everett Gillison, the deputy mayor for public safety, said Sunday.

Immigrant advocates say the year-old agreement between the city and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service, known as ICE, has resulted in deportation proceedings against immigrants arrested on even minor charges. Under the agreement, ICE agents can routinely access the city's Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System (PARS). That agreement is up for renewal on Thursday.

"It is the mayor's view that the PARS agreement should not be extended," Gillison said, speaking at a South Philadelphia church meeting attended by more than 300 immigrants and their supporters.

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Matt Dorsey, spokesman for San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, told SF Weekly that he wasn't familiar with the legal issues surrounding Philadelphia's sanctuary policy, but that San Francisco's policies on handling arrested immigrants were established between the state Department of Justice and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

"It's not a local issue, in the sense that all California agencies interface with the state DOJ, which interacts with ICE," Dorsey said.

We're still waiting to hear back on calls we've put in to the San Francisco Sheriff's Department and Supervisor David Campos -- who has led the charge for more liberal sanctuary policies here -- on the news from Philadelphia. Stay tuned.

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UPDATE, 5:15 P.M.: Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Eileen Hirst told us that Philadelphia's policy would probably be moot under the federal government's new Secure Communities program, which has already taken effect in San Francisco and is being rolled out to other parts of the country. Under Secure Communities, states' justice departments share information on arrested immigrants with ICE, regardless of local laws. "Once Secure Communities gets to Philadelphia, their policy will be irrelevant," Hirst said.

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