Philadelphia – On Thursday, January 28, Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution condemning the Obama Administration’s recent deportation raids focused on Central American refugees. The resolution was sponsored by Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez with Councilwoman Helen Gym as the co-sponsor. The resolution passed 16-1, with only Councilman Brian O’Neil voting against. Councilmembers Quinones Sanchez, Gym, Blackwell, and Jones spoke in favor.
New Sanctuary Movement worked with the Councilwomen on the resolution and was be at City Council to show support from immigrants and citizens on this critical resolution. NSM organizer Maria Turcios, who is from Honduras, publicly gave her testimony about the violence immigrants flee in Central America based on the experiences of her family.
The resolution weeks after Mayor Kenney reinstated Philadelphia as a “Sanctuary City,” a move that was supported by Councilwomen Gym and Quinones Sanchez. Philadelphia has one of the best local anti-deportation policies in the country.
“As the Councilwoman for a district with a high immigrant population I condemn these raids in these raids in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly affection and urge the President of the United States to establish a comprehensive national policy to protect and preserve our immigrant families,” said Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez (7th District).
The resolution in City Council comes two days after 275 Pennsylvania clergy signed an open letter calling for an immediate end to the raids, which they called “unconscionable.” Read the full letter with the signatories here.
“These raids have terrorized our children and created fear,” said New Sanctuary Movement leader Estela Hernandez, a mother from Mexico who has lived in Philadelphia for eleven years. “Our community is preparing and learning our rights to defend ourselves against injustice. We are united and fighting back so they don’t separate our families.”
“Mass deportations are terrorizing families and have no place in this country,” said Councilwoman Helen Gym. “Thousands of unaccompanied children who fled terror in their homelands are being shamefully neglected by our federal authorities. We cannot continue to neglect the people who came here seeking refuge. We must commit to treating them as the refugees they are.”
We thank Councilwoman Quinones Sanchez and Councilwoman Gym for their leadership on this resolution, which further demonstrates their leadership and consistent support of immigrant communities in Philadelphia. While politicians like President Obama and former mayor Michael Nutter make deportation political priorities, and Republican presidential candidates run campaigns based on xenophobic, racist hate, we welcome this positive resolution confirming that all immigrants are welcome in the City of Brotherly Love.
Check out the full resolution below:
Urging the President of the United State to establish a comprehensive national policy regarding our undocumented immigrants that seeks to preserve and protect families that have fled to this country from situations of widespread violence and depravation, and to also prevent future deportation raids that tear apart our communities.
WHERAS, On Monday January 4, 2016 Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson confirmed that ICE authorities apprehended 121 adults and children during raids conducted over New Year’s weekend, as part of a nationwide operation to deport undocumented immigrants; and
WHEREAS, The raids, supported by the Obama administration which has targeted hundreds of families nationwide that crossed the southern border or those who have lost their documented status in the country since May 2014; and
WHEREAS, The one hundred and twenty one adults and children that were deported during the New Year’s weekend raids were primarily Central American families who fled the extreme violence in their home countries to seek safety, family unity, and a better life; and
WHEREAS, These coordinated raids have caused fear and insecurity among immigrant families across the City of Philadelphia, where too many undocumented immigrants fear going to work, school, and the hospital in fear of being deported; and
WHEREAS, The City of Philadelphia recognizes the significant economic, cultural, and social contributions of its diverse and vibrant immigrant communities our city; and
WHEREAS, Executive Order 5-16 established Philadelphia as a sanctuary city by ending the unjust collaboration between city officials and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and
WHEREAS, Philadelphia has become a national leader in creating an immigrant-friendly environment through cultural and economic initiatives; and
WHEREAS, Our City of Brotherly Love is home to families who flee extreme violence in their native countries to seek safety, family unity, and a better life in the United States; and
WHEREAS, The City of Philadelphia embraces international standards respecting the rights of refugees and asylum seekers; and urges our federal government to likewise respect and uphold the rights of refugees and asylum seekers; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Council of the City of Philadelphia urges the Department of Homeland Security to immediately halt mass deportation raids of Central American refugees. The City of Philadelphia also calls upon federal officials implement just and humane immigration policies that threaten the unity and safety of refugees and asylum seekers; and
BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED, That an engrossed copy of this resolution be transmitted to the President of the United States, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director, the Field Director for Pennsylvania Immigration, Customs Enforcement Field Director, and the City of Philadelphia Immigrant and Cultural Affairs office.
Maria D. Quiñones Sánchez Helen Gym
Councilwoman, 7th District Councilwoman, At- Large