Activists shift ICE protests to City Hall, place Mayor Kenney in cross hairs

"If Mayor Kenney decides to stop the PARS agreement then we'll leave camp."

Pat Loeb
July 06, 2018 - 12:47 pm

Pat Loeb | KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Activists continued to protest the presence of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in Philadelphia on Friday, after being evicted from an encampment outside the ICE office.  

Several dozen people, with tents, tarps, signs, collapsible chairs and a large rubber ducky moved onto the sidewalk on the east side of City Hall, calling on Mayor Jim Kenney to end ICE access to its arrest database, which is called PARS.

"If Mayor Kenney decides to stop the PARS agreement then we'll leave camp," said one protester, "but as long as that is a policy, we're going to be here taking up space."

Mayor Kenney says it's not that simple. The city recently won a federal court ruling that it can require judicial warrants, not simply detainer requests, to hold inmates for ICE. He says it could help all cities with welcoming immigration policies, but it could be appealed.

"We don't want to do anything that's going to rile the appellate court and reverse the judge's decision," the mayor said. "That doesn't mean we won't end it. It just means we want to be thoughtful about what the ramifications of ending it are."

Kenney says he supports the protest, but fears it's misplaced.

"Make sure that everybody votes in the 2018 midterms so we can change the government and get rid of ICE, because I can't do it," he said. "If I could, I would."