PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The City of Philadelphia is taking on the Trump administration. They headed to court on Thursday in the latest round in their fight over federal funds for sanctuary cities.
The federal government has deemed Philadelphia a sanctuary city and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has withheld $1.5 million in federal funds until the city complies with federal immigration rules, so the city has sued the federal government for that cash.
“That’s what this country is, it’s a bastion of safety and some people want to change that,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in December. “They want to shut the door to immigration.”
On Thursday, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross testified in the case, saying his department does not deal with many illegal immigrants.
“The reality is when you ask me about crimes – crimes committed and who commits them in Philadelphia — it’s not illegal or undocumented people and that’s a reality,” said Ross.
Ross also testified Philadelphia police do not have the ability to enforce federal policy.
“More importantly, we just don’t have the time and resources to be an arm of ICE, and that’s a reality,” said Ross.
Eva Gladstein, the city’s deputy managing director for Health and Human Services, also testified, saying undocumented immigrants would be less likely to use city services if they believed they were to be reported.
The federal government argues city policy creates an unsafe environment since undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds are not reported to immigration and customs agents.
On the bench, Judge Baylson called the issue at hand a paperwork problem and urged ICE to attach additional documentation proving why an arrested person in Philadelphia needs to be transferred into federal custody. He urged Philadelphia officials to accept the explanation.
A ruling was not made Thursday. Oral arguments are expected again in federal court on June 6 and a final decision could happen later this summer.