- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Seth Williams and the need to do the right thing: Say no to PARS.
There is word that tomorrow, three bodies- the Police (with heavy input from the Mayor), the Courts and the DA, will each get a vote in whether or not the city lets the federal immigration agency, or ICE, have access to our the Police Department Arrest Reporting System (PARS).
Guess who looks like they will be the swing vote? Our friend Seth Williams.
PARS information sharing is bad, bad news. It effectively lets federal immigration officials mine arrest data from the Philadelphia PD, to see the immigration status of anyone who is arrested. As PICC has noted in a letter to many of our elected officials, this is wrong for a number of reasons:
- Members of immigrant communities will be less and less likely to report crimes, and will be less willing to serve as witnesses. Integrating ICE investigations with local police activities through programs like the PARS Agreement concerns not only immigrant communities, but also local law enforcement, t rely on community trust to do their jobs effectively. As a result of this reluctance to trust the police, our city as a whole will become less safe.
- Through the PARS Access, ICE may be able to access victim and witness information. While the PARS Agreement with ICE attempts to limit further disclosure of that information, it does not go far enough. There is no reason that victims and witnesses should be exposed to possible deportation because of their cooperation in the reporting of a crime.
- The PARS/ICE Agreement provides no real financial benefit to the City. According to the contract between the City of Philadelphia and ICE, the initial licensing fee paid by ICE was $13,065. The ongoing yearly renewal fee is only $5,565. For this renewal fee, the City agrees to provide a 24 hour hotline for support, on-site troubleshooting and updates to ICE. Therefore, the City is unlikely to lose any significant amount of money, and may actually save money by not renewing this contract.
- Through the PARS system, ICE has access to information about every person arrested in the City of Philadelphia, United States citizens as well as immigrants, documented or otherwise. This has resulted in the extended detention of a number of United States citizens, due to ICE mistakes or database errors. ICE agents are charged with the enforcement of federal immigration law. Allowing these federal agents direct access to such extensive information is an overbroad approach to the intended purpose of providing information about a much narrower population.
- The ICE-PARS data link also goes against the spirit of Mayor Nutter’s recent Executive Order No. 8-09, which mandates that immigrants should have access to city services without fear that their immigration status will be questioned or disclosed. The Executive Order includes direction on the narrow, specific situations in which law enforcement may ask about or share this information. This connection between the Philadelphia Police and ICE has created the sense that local police are indeed enforcing immigration laws.
- The continuation of this direct data link will have an ongoing, negative impact on Census participation in Philadelphia, as many immigrant communities have developed an even greater distrust of officials as a result of this closer relationship between Philadelphia law enforcement and ICE.
Participating in PARS information sharing is a huge mistake, on so many levels.
The bottom line is that if you do this, you help create divisions and mistrust between immigrant communities and the PD and DA. Immigrants will see the police as nothing more than an immigration enforcement agency. It means less witnesses coming forward, including victims of domestic violence and others. It tears down the hard work that some offices- such as the Police Department- have done to gain the trust of immigrants communities.
Even on a purely selfish level- if you care about Philly, this is a bad idea, because a big part of the reason that pieces of our city have rebounded in the last few years is that since 2000 alone, tens of thousands of immigrants- documented and not- have come to Philly, revitalized neighborhoods and created jobs.
And they are potentially doing this all for a few pieces of gold...
The swing vote in all of this appears to be the District Attorney (with the Mayor/Police on the right side of things, and the Court on the wrong end.) It is not clear yet what they are planning to do.
Seth has done very good things in office so far- living up to the promise so many of us had. Let's hope that continues tomorrow, with his help in killing this misguided, cruel- and dumb- policy.