RESOLUTION OPPOSING SENATE BILL NO. 997, PRINTER'S NO. 1384, ON "SANCTUARY CITIES"
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association, the oldest association of lawyers in the United States, is committed to advancing the fair and effective administration of justice;
WHEREAS, the U.S. Constitution and Pennsylvania Constitution guarantee the right not to be imprisoned without probable cause and due process of law;
WHEREAS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") routinely issues detainers to ask local officials to continue holding people in jail beyond the time when they should be released so that ICE can investigate whether they might be subject to deportation;
WHEREAS, there is no clear process for challenging an ICE detainer or getting an ICE detainer lifted or cancelled once it has been issued;
WHEREAS, ICE detainers are not arrest warrants, and are issued by federal immigration enforcement agents without any authorization or oversight by a judge;
WHEREAS, without the procedural safeguards required by due process and the Fourth Amendment, ICE has mistakenly issued thousands of detainers for U.S. citizens and non-citizens who are lawfully present in the United States;
WHEREAS, local law enforcement collaboration with ICE undermines community trust in the police, leading many immigrants to avoid coming forward to seek police protection, report crimes, and cooperate in investigations;
WHEREAS, ICE detainers raise the cost of incarceration for counties and municipalities because the federal government does not reimburse local facilities for the costs of imprisoning people pursuant to ICE detainers;
WHEREAS, ICE detainers are merely requests, not commands, and local law enforcement agencies are not required to hold anyone based on an ICE detainer alone;
WHEREAS, immigration enforcement is a job for federal immigration authorities and not for local law enforcement, whose job is to protect all residents, regardless of immigration status;
WHEREAS, using local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration laws invites law enforcement officers to engage in unconstitutional racial and ethnic profiling and to treat people perceived to be "foreign" differently;
WHEREAS, in light of the many concerns raised by ICE detainer requests, there is a growing trend of cities, counties, and states nationwide choosing to preserve their own much-needed resources for local priorities by refusing to allow ICE to dictate who should be detained in local detention facilities;
WHEREAS, in 2013 and 2014, a coalition of Philadelphia grassroots community organizations, service providers, faith groups, and immigrants' rights advocates called on the City to respect the unity of immigrant families by putting an end to the practice of honoring ICE holds;
WHEREAS, in March 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled in Galarza v. Szalczyk, 745 F.3d 634 (3d Cir. 2014), that when a local law enforcement agency imprisons someone on the basis of an ICE detainer request, it can be held liable for damages for constitutional violations;
WHEREAS, in April 2014, the Philadelphia Mayor signed an executive order directing Philadelphia detention facilities not to imprison people for the federal immigration authorities without a judicial warrant, making Philadelphia one of the first major cities to cease imprisoning people pursuant to ICE detainer requests;
WHEREAS, in April 2014, after being found liable in the Galarza case, Lehigh County passed a binding resolution stating that the Lehigh County Department of Corrections would no longer continue holding anyone in custody without a judicially-issued detainer, warrant, or order;
WHEREAS, a March 2015 study by the Sheller Center for Social Justice, entitled "Changing Landscapes: Pennsylvania Counties Reevaluate Policies on Immigration Detainers," found that nearly half of the counties in Pennsylvania have adopted a policy or practice of declining to respond to ICE's detainer requests, or to comply with detainer requests only in limited circumstances;
WHEREAS, the Pennsylvania Senate Local Government Committee recently passed Senate Bill No. 997, Printer's No. 1384, on "Sanctuary Cities," which would force Pennsylvania counties and municipalities to comply with all immigration-related requests by the federal government, including ICE detainers; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill No. 997, Printer's No. 1384, would force counties into the unenviable position of having to choose between honoring ICE detainer requests and potentially being held liable for damages for constitutional violations, or not honoring ICE detainer requests and facing a range of harsh financial sanctions.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association calls on members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to oppose Senate Bill No. 997, Printer's No. 1384, and any other bill that would punish counties or municipalities for making the decision to disentangle local policing from enforcement of civil immigration laws.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association authorizes the Chancellor or the Chancellor's designee to communicate the content of this resolution to members of the General Assembly, the Governor, state and local public officials, other bar associations, and the public at large, and to take such other action as may be appropriate.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: December 17, 2015