PICC has been involved in advocacy with the City of Philadelphia for many years now regarding the need to enact policy that would address the impact of local police collaboration with federal immigration enforcement on Philadelphia’s immigrant communities. From opposing the Clear Act in 2004, to convening a coalition to oppose the implementation of Secure Communities in 2009 and PARS in 2010, PICC has raised its voice against local police/ICE collaboration for many years. At the same time, we have worked closely with the City to improve public safety and immigrant access to services through advocacy for policies including Philadelphia Police Department Directive 71 in 2005 on language services, Executive Order 9-08 in 2008 extending language access requirements to all City agencies, and Executive Order 8-09 in 2009 on non-inquiry and non-disclosure of immigration status. Most recently, PICC worked as part of the Philadelphia Family Unity Network (PFUN) to put an end to local police enforcement of ICE holds.
Since 2015, PICC has been a member of the Campaign to Shut Down Berks, a grassroots coalition fighting to shut down the Berks County Family Detention Center and end family detention. Pennsylvania is currently home to the Berks County Family Detention Center (BCRC), one of three detention centers for immigrant families, where children as young as two-weeks-old have been incarcerated. The campaign includes local organizations and advocates, including the Free Migration Project, GALAEI, Juntos, Make the Road PA, Migrant Power Movement, Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC), and Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Action Network (UUPLAN) with the support of national groups: Detention Watch Network, #Not1More, and We Belong Together.
Examples of Success include:
- Executive Order 8-09 on immigration status was issued in Philadelphia by Mayor Nutter in November of 2009, prohibiting city officers and employees from asking about immigration status, or disclosing status information, with certain exceptions. Law enforcement is prohibited from stopping, questioning, arresting, or detaining someone solely because of ethnicity, national origin, or perceived immigration status and protections are outlined for victims, witnesses or others who week police assistance.
- On April 16, 2014, Mayor Nutter signed an executive order strictly limiting the use of ICE holds in the City of Philadelphia.
- In January 2015, The Sheller Center for Social Justice at Temple University released A Changing Landscape: Pennsylvania Counties Reevaluate Policies on Immigration Detainers, a report on immigration detainer policies across Pennsylvania. According to this report, about half of Pennsylvania counties no longer hold individuals in local jails at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after they are otherwise eligible to be released. Many counties revised their policies in the wake of a 2014 federal court ruling in Galarza v. Szalczyk, which found that so-called “ICE holds” or “ICE detainers” are discretionary and leave local agencies that honor them open to legal liability. Others cited the fact that ICE detainers diverted critical resources away from local law enforcement needs. Counties from all across the state have adopted new policies and practices. The list includes western counties, such as Westmoreland and Clarion, and eastern counties, such as Bucks and Montgomery. This report was prepared in close collaboration with PICC, and the ACLU of Pennsylvania.
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