Caving to progressive demands, the city of Philadelphia announced it is ending a major contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement sharing real-time arrest information.
The decade-long arrangement will expire at the end of August.
The information, contained in Philadelphia’s Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System (PARS), alerts authorities when new arrests are made, and includes arrestee's full names, countries of origin, and Social Security numbers. While PARS does not indicate immigration status, Democrats charged that ICE nevertheless abused the database to investigate potential immigration violations.
Anyone who interacts with law enforcement is entered into the database, including those who are arrested, victims and witnesses, with some limits on what ICE officers can view. (FoxNews.com)
“I cannot in good conscience allow the agreement to continue,” Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney, who celebrated the city's sanctuary status last month, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We're not going to provide them with information so they can go out and round people up."
He said he wished he could abolish the agency altogether.
"If I could abolish ICE, I would,” he added. “But we can abolish this contract, and we are."
ICE denied any wrongdoing.
[I]n a statement to Fox News, ICE officials reiterated that the agency had not breached its agreement with Philadelphia in any way, including by engaging in racial profiling or accessing information without the city's approval. They added that they were "deeply disappointed" in the city's decision, saying the city had not pointed to any specific instances of alleged misconduct by ICE.
The move comes after Occupy ICE protesters camped out for weeks demonstrating against the agency. After the announcement, however, they packed up.
Protesters say they are willing to stand down after city officials agree to stop cooperating with federal immigration enforcers.
From marches, to flooding City Hall, to setting up camp, a group known as “Occupy ICE Philadelphia” has been entrenched in Center City for the better part of the month, but that came to an end Saturday.
“We were very clear with the city that we would stay in this space until PARS collaboration came to an end,” said activist Deborah Rose. (CBS Philadelphia)
The Department of Homeland Security blasted the city’s decision, with spokeswoman Katie Waldman saying Philadelphia will only end up "harboring criminal aliens."
"Sanctuary-city policies make American communities like Philadelphia less safe by putting the rights of criminal aliens over the safety and security of American citizens," Waldman said. "Despite the misguided action taken by Philadelphia today, DHS will continue to work to remove illegal aliens and uphold public safety."