PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia will stop giving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement access to a real-time arrest database, accusing the agency of misusing the information to target people who are in the country illegally but are otherwise not accused of any crimes, the mayor announced Friday.
“We’re not going to provide them with information so they can go out and round people up,” Democrat Jim Kenney said.
The decision by the mayor means the city will not renew a contract that expires Aug. 31.
He said the federal agency’s actions have created fear and distrust in the city’s immigrant community and made it more difficult for police to solve crimes.
As a “sanctuary city,” Philadelphia had already limited cooperation with immigration enforcement. It won’t release inmates to ICE without a judicial warrant.
The Trump administration wants to cut funding to the city as a result but has so far been blocked by a judge.
“How anyone can define this as making America great again is beyond me,” the mayor said.
Anyone who interacts with law enforcement is entered into the database, including those who are arrested, victims and witnesses, with limits on what ICE officers can view.
The mayor said city’s conversations in recent weeks with ICE only confirmed what he had feared.
With access to the database, Kenney said ICE has been arresting otherwise law-abiding residents for civil immigration violations. He said it’s also been targeting for investigating foreign-born residents even though there is no information on their immigration status.
In a letter to ICE, Kenney said the contract “has created the false perception that the city is willing to be an extension of ICE.”
“It is not in the best interests of the city and its residents for the city to acquiesce to that perception,” he said.