Philadelphia may be ground zero in the coming battle over sanctuary cities

Assuming that the President Elect is good to his word from many appearances on the campaign trail, there are changes coming to our system of enforcement of immigration laws. That’s going to be putting our so called “sanctuary cities” in the spotlight very quickly next year. You may recall that Donald Trump set forth his policy positions on this front very clearly this year.


Like many Republicans, he vows to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that shield residents from federal immigration authorities. Trump has pledged to block taxpayer dollars from going to any cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Municipalities like San Francisco, for example, have passed ordinances preventing city officials from asking about immigration status unless required by law or court order.

The new Mayor in Philadelphia is thus far setting a defiant tone in this regard. As Philly Voice reports, Jim Kenney is making sounds which indicate an intention to block the enforcement of the nation’s laws no matter what the federal government may think.

Philadelphia will stay a sanctuary city for its immigrant population, no matter what President-elect Donald Trump says, Mayor Jim Kenney recently announced.

“First of all, we’ve changed the name from sanctuary city to the Fourth Amendment city,” Kenney told Thursday. “We respect and live up to the Fourth Amendment, which means you can’t be held against your will without a warrant from the court signed by a judge. So yeah, we will continue to be a Fourth Amendment city abiding by the Constitution.”

Philly isn’t the only hot spot striking such a negative pose, however. We saw the same thing happening in Seattle almost immediately.

Seattle will remain what some call a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants despite Donald Trump’s election as president, even if that means losing federal funding, Mayor Ed Murray promised a large crowd gathered inside City Hall on Wednesday.

The city is one of many with a range of different policies to protect undocumented immigrants, and before the rally Murray called standing by that “the most American thing we could possibly do.”


For these cities and others – most notably San Francisco – there is a period coming which will either result in transition or crisis. If I could offer a humble suggestion to the President Elect, there is time available for an olive branch here before breaking out the Louisville Slugger. It’s going to take some time for Congress to work with the new White House administration to make the required changes, not just in the general tone and direction of federal immigration enforcement and application of ICE resources, but to address the question of suspending federal funding for cities who are not in compliance. This would be an ideal period for Trump to offer a sort of “amnesty” (in the most ironic use of the word ever seen) to these cities. Regardless how they’ve treated the situation with known illegal immigrants under detention in the past, they will have several months to reverse those policies and help Washington enforce the nation’s laws. And if they do so, all can be forgiven and the various levels of government can move forward together to uphold the law.

However, for those like Kenney who choose to grandstand and continue to endanger their own citizens, it should be made clear that the hammer is poised to come down. For fiscal year 2017, the City of Brotherly Love is on track to receive $28M in federal funding. Trump should make it abundantly clear that he will work with Congress to shut off all but the most critical portions of this cash flow. And let’s face it… the money could be better applied elsewhere anyway, such as by increasing funding to the Border Patrol and ICE.


If the citizens of Philadelphia are unhappy with the resulting budgetary crisis, and particularly if they were already tired of the lawlessness inherent in these sanctuary city policies, they are able to easily remedy the situation. They simply need to go to the polls and elect leaders who won’t intentionally place them in peril. None of this is all that difficult if the will exists to address the problem.

In the meantime, returning to the subject of Irony, let’s look back at one press photo of Mayor Kenney which displays his campaign slogan.

Jim Kenney Gets It

Kenney. He gets it.”

Just judging by his statements thus far on the sanctuary city question I’d have to take exception to that claim. The world is changing and he doesn’t appear to “get it” at all.

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Jazz Shaw 9:21 AM on September 21, 2023