By Anita Oh
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — According to numbers from the Pennsylvania Senate, the state supplies more than $1.3 billion to so-called “sanctuary cities.” Now, some state lawmakers are working to block that funding, at a time when the federal administration is cracking down on illegal immigration.
Senate Bill 10 is sponsored by Republican state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler and it passed 37-12 earlier this month.
It now heads to the state House of Representatives when they reconvene in March.
“This is not going to lead to mass deportations or racial profiling. All my bill does is when someone is already in lawful custody pursuant to a lawful arrest, that ICE is notified,” Reschenthaler told Eyewitness News.
Reschenthaler says the story of a violent sexual assault of a 12-year-old boy by an illegal immigrant led him to sponsor the bill.
“One crime is too many,” he added. “We need to stop this practice of sanctuary cities and make sure we are a nation of laws.”
President Donald Trump previously signed an executive order that aims to block federal funding from sanctuary cities.
On Monday afternoon, Congressman Brendan Boyle testified in front of Philadelphia City Council leaders, outlining what he believes is the damaging impact of Trump’s policies from education to immigration.
He estimated 200,000 Philadelphians would lose health coverage if the Affordable Care Act is repealed without a replacement.
Meanwhile, he says he does not support the president’s executive order on sanctuary cities or on immigration.
“It shows you what a tumultuous time it is in our country and the dangerous tenor being set by this White House,” Boyle told Eyewitness News. “I think that’s a terrible mistake and it ends up punishing an entire city for a policy dispute between the federal government and a locality.”
If signed into law, the effects of Senate Bill 10 would be dramatic, says City Council President Darrell Clarke.
“We’ve heard numbers as high as $600 million loss of state revenue in the city of Philadelphia. That would totally wreck our budget process,” Clarke said.
But beyond fiscal concerns, there are also moral concerns about Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, says Peter Pedemonti, the executive director of the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia.
“It’s terrorizing immigrant communities and tearing apart families,” Pedemonti said.
That’s why a day after the presidential election, the interfaith organization began training 1,300 Philadelphians to disrupt ICE raids, seven of which have occurred in Philadelphia in the past month, according to Pedemonti.
“We could hear pounding on the door. We could hear people yelling to open up. The man became panicked. We heard screaming. Then the line went dead,” Pedemonti recalls from a phone call with a man who reported ICE officials at his door.
The organization trains volunteers to use prayer and song to confront ICE agents and says it is a message to officials that the community will not stand by in silence.
“This is very dangerous and very scary and not only violates faith values but violates values of our country,” Pedemonti added.
The next “Sanctuary in the Streets” training by the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia is scheduled for March 19.