Philadelphia’s Sanctuary Madness Continues
By Colton R. Overcash | August 29, 2018
Despite what many would already consider a PR nightmare regarding a released illegal alien rapist, it appears Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) is nonetheless continuing to double down on his city’s sanctuary policies. First he denied Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from access to the city’s arrest database; now he’s reportedly developing a municipal ID card program for city residents, including illegal aliens.
Philadelphia City Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez (D-District 7) sponsored legislation for the municipal ID program in 2013 and again in 2016, which didn’t pass. Now she’s got the mayor working aggressively in her corner. A city council vote is expected on an ordinance to create the program sometime in September.
Similar ID programs have been established in other municipalities, like Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
If adopted, illegal aliens will be eligible for a wide range of city services, including access to public transportation, treatment for drug addiction, groceries from food pantries, opening bank accounts and applying for work authorization (which of course violates federal law). The municipal ID will also offer discounts on medical prescriptions and public parking.
In short, a municipal ID ordinance would amount to expanding Philadelphia’s existing protections for illegal aliens even further, as it was already identified as a sanctuary city in a 2018 report by FAIR. Granting ID cards to illegal aliens rewards those who violate our immigration laws and encourages others to follow the same path. Philadelphia, like other localities that have done so, would become even more of a magnet for illegal immigration, providing still further disincentive for would-be legal immigrants to play by the rules since they can side-step the process yet gain the same benefits.
Further, a municipal ID program would make it even more difficult for police to determine the immigration status of an alien during routine interactions–-even after a crime is committed. Philadelphia may also choose to not preserve any of the background information provided by applicants, which could prevent ICE from using the data to identify and locate applicants who are illegal aliens: This is a path Chicago has followed with its ID program after applicant information in New York City was the subject of litigation.
The ID program is expected to cost Philadelphia taxpayers at least $580,000 to launch and maintain in the first year. It remains unclear as to how much the program will cost beyond the first year or if the city plans to generate any additional revenue to support it.
The Pennsylvania legislature should use its preemption power to prohibit or at least restrict localities from creating municipal IDs. Although Governor Tom Wolf (D) would likely veto any bill that did this, the legislature could try to override his veto, which under the state constitution requires a 2/3 vote of both chambers. Republicans control the Senate by a margin of 33-16, just enough for 2/3 on their own, but the House by only 120-82, meaning they would need significant Democrat support for an override in the lower chamber. Uphill, yes, but maybe not impossible and worth trying.
At a minimum, the legislature should affirm its commitment to upholding the law and to putting the interests of law-abiding citizens ahead of illegal aliens.