On January 25, Donald Trump signed an executive order that withdraws federal money from sanctuary cities. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney stated that Philadelphia will remain a sanctuary city and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said that the city’s police department will continue to follow sanctuary city policies even Pittsburgh is not officially a sanctuary city.
While that was happening, Pennsylvania Senate Republicans began working the “SAFE” Act. The SAFE Act is designed to financially punish sanctuary cities that release undocumented immigrants from police custody and not turn them over to a federal agency after they commit a crime.
The bill, Senate Bill 10, was introduced by State Senator Guy Reschenthaler. In his co-sponsor memo, Senator Reschenthaler stated “so-called “sanctuary cities” came into the national spotlight after the tragic murder of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco by an undocumented immigrant. This man would have been deported prior to committing this crime if San Francisco had honored the immigration detainer.” The bill reads:
Notwithstanding subsection (a), a municipality of refuge shall be liable for damages on account of an injury to a person or property within the limits set forth in this subchapter if the injury was caused by the act of an individual that was in the custody of the law enforcement agency of the municipality of refuge and was released, notwithstanding the existence of a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement civil immigration detainer request for the individual.
If this bill becomes law, sanctuary cities may also not be eligible to receive grants issued by the state and cannot participate in the sale of state surplus property. The bill is sitting in the Senate State Government Committee, but Andy Hoover, Communications Director at the ACLU of PA, issued a tweet promising lawsuits against the Commonwealth and county governments if the bill becomes law.
— Andy Hoover (@freedomsfriend) January 25, 2017