A celebration of Philadelphia immigration turns somber

Pat Loeb
June 28, 2018 - 3:43 pm
Cathryn Miller-Wilson, one of the leaders of the New Americans campaign

Tom McDonald

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It was supposed to be a celebration, but the final event of Philadelphia's Immigrant Heritage Month Thursday took on a somber tone. 

"We are in the midst of tough, dark days. It's going to get darker and tougher before it's over," shared Mayor Jim Kenney.

But he did have good news to share about Philadelphia's efforts on behalf of its immigrant community: The creation of a local Center for New Americans has recruited 130 lawyers and helped more than 300 people complete applications for citizenship. It was overshadowed, however, by events on the U.S.-Mexican border.

"This disgraceful operation of separating children from their parents," he said.

He wasn't alone in that opinion. Cathryn Miller-Wilson, one of the leaders of the New Americans campaign, said she couldn't help but wonder if some of the people they'd helped were having second thoughts.

"Do I want to be a citizen of a country that takes children from their parents, that incarcerates families, that ignores due process?" she said.

But she said new citizens who are committed to democratic ideals are key to reclaiming them.

"To strengthen the union and to pull it back from the precipice on which it's on now," Miller-Wilson added.