Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is, to put it mildly, embattled. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin) introduced legislation to abolish the agency, and the movement to abolish ICE has grown exponentially in the past few weeks. And pro-ICE law enforcement have seen voters turning on them at the ballot box this year.
But it isn’t just the movement to abolish the agency established in 2002 that ICE has to contend with. It’s evaporating local cooperation.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is one of those local authorities fed up with cooperation with ICE. Krasner opposes renewing a contract that allowed ICE access to Philadelphia’s real-time arrest database.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney introduced a resolution seven years ago, when he was a city councilman, opposing the sharing of that database with ICE. The 2011 resolution passed the city council unanimously.
“The fear of deportation has created a significant barrier between the Police Department and immigrant communities, and hampered the district attorney’s ability to prosecute and convict criminals,” the resolution said.
Today, Occupy ICE protesters are camped out at City Hall demanding an end to that contract. And the District Attorney is asking to no longer be hampered.
All these factors taken together should mean the contract’s days are numbered, but there are complications.
The city is contending with an ICE office that a ProPublica investigation found was the nation’s most aggressive.
The city only recently won a court battle against the Trump Administration over it’s sanctuary city policies, and is attempting to be careful in its interactions with immigration enforcement officers as their battle moves through the court system.
“We have stated repeatedly in the past week that because the litigation is not over, we are careful in our interactions with ICE, particularly because the decision has had national implications, including for other welcoming cities,” said City of Philadelphia communications director Deana Gamble.
The city is also mindful about broader threats the Trump administration has made to the funding for cities that stand up to the aggressive immigration enforcement agency.
But these fears don’t change their convictions.
“Let me be crystal clear: I will absolutely be a ‘no’ vote,” Krasner said Wednesday morning, “Quite frankly, cooperating with ICE at this time makes our city less safe because it makes undocumented individuals fearful of coming forward to report crimes or testify in criminal cases. That’s simply unacceptable.”
Gamble also made it clear that despite his fears of retaliation from Trump, his larger views on the issue haven’t changed since authoring that 2011 resolution.
The contract between the agency and the City of Philadelphia expires August 31.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.