About this petition
This summer, Philadelphia should join the growing number of cities and states around the country that have demanded an end to the controversial practice of turning local police records over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – essentially turning community safety officers into immigration agents.
In Philadelphia the Mayor, Court system, and District Attorney have an agreement that lets ICE access Philadelphia police arrest records through a database called PARS (Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System). PARS lists the country of origin of all people in police custody, and ICE uses this system to identify “deportable” immigrants.
It may seem harmless at first, but an individual that is in police custody merely for a traffic violation -- or as a result of language miscommunication or other mistake that never results in criminal charges -- can be deported because of PARS! Even if that person has lived in Philly for decades, has U.S. citizen children or family members, and has been a contributing, tax-paying member of their community.
Here’s the problem: the basis of community policing is trust, and Philly's partnership with ICE destroys that critical trust between local police and immigrant communities. When residents fear that they or their family members risk deportation through any contact with police, they will avoid reporting crimes, even as victims or witnesses. Additionally, they may avoid contact with any local government, undermining efforts to encourage equal access to city services for all residents. Human rights issues aside, everyone's public safety is compromised when communities do not feel safe reporting crimes and cooperating with police.
Immigrants have been central to reversing the trend of Philadelphia’s declining population, increasing entrepreneurship and revitalizing many neighborhoods. The City of Philadelphia has created policies aimed to make the city welcoming to immigrants and capitalize on their promise. However, this controversial data-sharing with ICE will undermine these efforts and threaten the city's future growth.
Tell Philadelphia's leaders to end the agreement with ICE when it expires on August 31, 2011 - sign this petition and share it on Facebook!