Philadelphia will remain a sanctuary city to the immigration community, Mayor Jim Kenney pledged Thursday.
The mayor was responding to a question about President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to kill all federal funding to sanctuary cities, which decline to cooperate with federal immigration authorities by refusing to hold undocumented law violators in police custody unless they’ve committed a serious crime.
“First of all, we’ve changed the name from sanctuary city to the Fourth Amendment city," Kenney told philly.com. "We respect and live up to the Fourth Amendment, which means you can’t be held against your will without a warrant from the court signed by a judge. So yeah, we will continue to be a Fourth Amendment city abiding by the Constitution."
The mayor decline to speculate on the ramifications of losing federal funds if the city doesn’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
“Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it and we’ll see how it goes and we’ll try to figure something out,” he said.
In the 2017 fiscal year, Philadelphia is slated to receive $28 million in federal aid, according to city budget figures.
Immigrant advocacy groups argue that the sanctuary policy removes the fear of deportation that often stops an undocumented individual from contacting the police when they’ve been a victim of a crime. The policy actually improves immigrant-police relations, they maintain.
Philadelphia has had a sanctuary city status since 2014, but Mayor Michael Nutter ended the designation just before leaving office. Kenney reinstated the designation on his first day in office this year.
Trump and other opponents of the policy argue that it allows criminals who would normally be deported to walk the streets and commit other crimes.
San Francisco, Seattle and other sanctuary cities have also expressed concern about possible pressure by the Trump administration to end the policy.