Philadelphia City Council Opts For Ending Secure Communities Participation

Philadelphia City Council members have urged Mayor Michael Nutter to not renew the city’s Secure Communities program contract with immigration authorities, following a unanimous vote on the issue, according to multiple reports.

The Council voted 17-0 for a nonbinding resolution to end Philadelphia’s agreement with US Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) that was signed in 2008. Participation in the agency’s Secure Communities program has allowed ICE agents to have access to city arrest data in a move to track down illegal immigrants who may have been convicted of serious crimes.

Last year, the city amended the agreement to exclude witness and victim information, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Federal data recently found that 348 of the 583 suspects turned over to ICE by Philadelphia authorities were never convicted of a crime, leading many to believe the practice of supporting the deportation of illegal aliens may impede public safety.

Mayor Nutter, District Attorney Seth Williams and the First Judicial Agreement District must either reject or renew the agreement by August 31.

Lawmakers across the nation have voiced their opposition to the Secure Communities program. Governors in Illinois, Massachusetts and New York have decided to stop participating in the program, while individual municipalities such as Los Angeles are also debating the issue.