Philly’s New ICE Detainer Policy: Time for Celebration, Caution, and Culture Shift

Nine days ago today the City of Philadelphia signed into policy an Executive Order regarding ICE Detainer Requests.

The City’s policy reads:

Section 1. No person in the custody of the City who otherwise would be released from custody shall be detained pursuant to an ICE civil immigration detainer request pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 287.7, nor shall notice of his or her pending release be provided, unless such person is being released after conviction for a first or second degree felony involving violence and the detainer is supported by a judicial warrant.

Section 2. The Police Commissioner, the Superintendent of Prisons and all other relevant officials of the City are hereby required to take appropriate action to implement this order.

This means that anyone convicted of a crime by the City of Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and is serving their sentence in a Philadelphia prison, will NOT be transferred to ICE when they’re released. In order to detain someone through the City’s prisons, ICE will need to get a “judicial warrant” of probable cause that another crime has been committed. They can no longer detain someone from the prisons only based on their immigration status. Given the one very narrow exception, Philadelphia police and prison staff have been instructed to ignore all ICE detainer requests.

Please see 1Love Movement’s Blog for FAQs and more information about the policy’s impact on our communities.

IT HAS TAKEN US IN 1LOVE MOVEMENT SOME TIME TO REFLECT ON THIS VICTORY, understand it’s real implications on our communities that interact daily with law enforcement, and critique the divisive framing of the policy as it’s worded – “unless such person is being released after conviction for a first or second degree felony involving violence”.

In the City’s initiative to essentially end the use of all ICE holds by requiring ICE to obtain a judicial warrant to support a detainer request, we join our Philadelphia Family Unity Network partners in celebrating this incredible win for our communities and our unwavering solidarity in gaining this win for all. We congratulate all of our ally groups who have worked for years and supported this cause, and we stand humbled by the power of our community through the struggles we’ve faced to demand justice for our families. We also feel the love and support of allies, groups and communities across the country who have praised this moment in Philadelphia as shifting the national landscape of police and ICE collaboration policies.

Philadelphia’s new policy represents the turning tide.  We expect more cities will follow Philly’s lead in weeks and months ahead, and we congratulate and thank everyone involved in this historic policy. ~ Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director, National Day Laborer Organizing Network

As Philadelphia passes one of the most progressive policies in eliminating local police cooperation with ICE officials, we’re hoping that mayors from cities across the country are watching, and realizing that more can be done to stop the unjust and immoral deportations happening in their communities. ~ Lorella Praeli, Policy Director, United We Dream

THROUGH ALL OF THIS, WE REMAIN CAUTIOUS IN THE POLICY’S FRAMING that continues to draw lines of who is deserving and who is not based on criminal background. While we have moved mountains in policy and legal language that will now protect more people than ever before, we continue to be faced with a destructive societal and political culture of judgement, exclusiveness, and scapegoating.

We have watched this happen in all levels of government from immigration reform to administrative relief to state and local policies. It urges us, as a movement for dignity, justice and fairness, to focus on the pieces of movement work that promote shifts in our culture as a society – the community organizing. 1Love Movement will continue this work with our Philadelphia Family Unity Network partners.

While we celebrate our victory in Philadelphia to separate local police & ICE, we recognize our work here and across this country is not done. Those in power will continue to try and divide us through their language and tactics and we must stand strong against their distractions if we ever, truly, wish to be free. ~ Erika Almiron, Executive Director, Juntos

New Sanctuary Movement strongly stands against deportation of anyone, regardless of criminal conviction. We understand mass deportation to be just one piece of a larger mass incarceration system. As we celebrate the historic victory of ending ICE holds for all in Philadelphia, we reject stigmatizing language and policies that seek to divide communities into deserving and undeserving. ~ Peter Pedemonti, Executive Director, New Sanctuary Movement 

THROUGH ORGANIZING WITH OUR COMMUNITIES, we will work to create a true culture shift, further a root cause analysis, and honor the human spirit. We will do this work envisioning a day when we have genuinely transformed our culture and communities, and ensure that our principles of transformation are reflected in policies that directly impact our communities. We will organize so that we will have policies around the country, throughout all levels of government, that read like this:

Section 1. There exists, in our country, a mass incarceration and mass deportation crisis. These systems work together to remove people from our communities and break families apart. We view the current criminal legal and deportation systems as harmful and destructive, as they deny us of our right to remain together, and deny us of our individual and community capacity as human beings to grow, transform, and heal.

Section 2. While we create policy change to break down institutional mechanisms that have created more harm in our communities, we will continue to envision and build community structures to address root causes of violence, and create processes to address violence and harm through transformative healing and accountability that is community-led and survivor-centered.


One thought on “Philly’s New ICE Detainer Policy: Time for Celebration, Caution, and Culture Shift

  1. Pingback: How community organizers fought deportation in Philadelphia and won | Attorney Negotiation Center

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