Protesters call on Philadelphia to drop deal with Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Mayor Michael Nutter is planning to renew a controversial deal between the city of Philadelphia and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  It shares information about people booked by police with immigration officials.  Today activists delivered hundreds of letters to District Attorney Seth Williams and the mayor calling on them to terminate the PARS contract.  Jen Rock is the co-director of the interfaith, immigrant rights organization the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia.  Earlier today she stood outside the District Attorney’s Office, beside a box of letters she was preparing to deliver in opposition to the PARS agreement.”People aren’t reporting crimes, people aren’t participating as witnesses or victims and there’s so much fear that interaction with police will lead to deportation that everyone becomes more vulnerable,” said Rock.North Philadelphia resident Marta Villanueva, who’s originally from Mexico, agreed: immigrants are avoiding contact with the police.  Timothy Esser-Haines, with the New Sanctuary Movement, translates for Villanueva.”She said many people who come here to work illegally and don’t have papers are mistreated by their employers.  They’re not paid what they should be paid, sometimes they’re not paid.  But nobody will report it because they know that the link between immigration and the police can result in them being deported.”Philadelphia Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison said the Mayor plans to renew the agreement.  The city said information about crime victims and witnesses is not shared.Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sánchez said it makes no sense to entangle the Philadelphia Police Department with what she calls “the broken federal immigration enforcement system.”  In June, councilmembers Sánchez and Jim Kenney co-introduced a resolution opposing the contract.  It was adopted unanimously by City Council.

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