Philadelphia, December 22, 2015 — Mayor Michael A. Nutter updated the City’s Executive Order regarding U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer and notification requests in instances of terrorism and violence.
His prepared remarks on the subject are as follows, check against delivery:
“I want to emphasize that the City of Philadelphia is a global and welcoming City – global in our desire to encourage investment by international companies and welcoming to immigrants from all over the world.
Philadelphia is a city built by immigrants and our economy and neighborhoods benefit greatly from our many newcomers. And we are growing as a city thanks in part to the influx of immigrants.
For almost a decade now, the City has been keenly aware of the difficulties some immigrants have confronted as they try to cope with crime in our city.
The fear is that in calling police for help or even calling the City for service that somehow immigration status would be noted or accessed, ultimately by Federal officials.
In a November 2009 executive order, we made clear that all Philadelphia residents regardless of immigration status have a right to access city services.
And at the same time, Police Commissioner Ramsey issued an order supporting this executive order, requiring police officers not to stop someone based on perceived immigration status or to inquire about immigration status for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws.
Further, officers were not to ask about immigration status of crime victims, witnesses or others who call or approach police seeking help.
And, in 2010, the City and Courts disallowed ICE access to court data on witnesses and victims of crime.
In 2014, I signed an executive order regarding ICE detainer requests.
The import of this new order was this: both the police department and the prison system would not honor ICE detainer requests unless the individual was convicted of a felony of the 1st or 2nd degree involving violence and then only when ICE produced a judicial warrant.
During that year, our Administration had conversations with the Department of Homeland Security.
Eventually, the Department ended its “Secure Communities” program and announced a new “Priority Enforcement Program,” which from the local perspective is more flexible and more accommodating, particularly on the issues of local law enforcement and community policing.
Today, I have signed a new executive order that maintains our current approach to ICE detainers – ICE still needs a judicial order – but that also better aligns with the new Priority Enforcement Program at the national level.
The changes in the Executive Order relate to new requirements for the City to notify ICE that it has a specific individual in custody; and the creation of a new 15-member Immigration Policing Community Advisory Board.
Equally important, ICE has agreed to our new procedure and is creating new links to the community.
On the issue of notification, if ICE asks about a person in our custody, we will provide information about that person’s impending release but only if:
- The person is suspected of terrorism or espionage
- Or has been convicted of first degree felonies like murder, rape, robbery, unlawful possession of a firearms or criminal street gang activity.
- Or if the person is being released and had a prior conviction on any of these serious felonies.
As part of this order, we’re creating a new board that will provide on-going oversight of the city’s relationship with ICE and Homeland Security. The board will also act as a liaison to provide information to the immigrant communities, and it will promote dialogue between Federal officials and our communities.
Meanwhile, ICE has said it will appoint a liaison in its local office to work with the immigrant communities and will establish a hotline to deal with complaints. ICE will also provide the City with monthly reports on its requests for notification.
Now, I understand that some might argue that any change in our 2014 Executive Order is a step backward, but I don’t think they are accurate.
We are very concerned with protecting all Philadelphians, with making everyone safe. And under our community policing model, we need residents talking and talking freely with the police about safety issues in their neighborhoods.
This Executive Order in no way impedes that free flow of information.
What it does do is meet our Federal officials in a new partnership. It is a way for us to provide information in the form of notification regarding people who have been convicted of very serious crimes and who are in our custody.
Philadelphians in the neighborhoods can rest assured that their immigration status is not in play and not being compromised by working with local police to make our city as safe as it can be.”