Listen, can you hear the sounds around you? Can you hear the loudness of the city, but the real question is, can you hear the tick of time, the heavy breaths, the shaking eyes, and the whispers of the heart? Many undocumented immigrants view Philly as city for a beginning something new, somewhere safe to start a home, a city where dreams are nurtured. But is it really?
Philly has always been battling between being a sanctuary city or not, but what does “sanctuary” mean? Sanctuary means that the city limits their cooperation with the national government's effort to enforce immigration law. This creates a place of safety for immigrants that are undocumented or without legal status.
Although Philly is a city made of many immigrants, we still have this ongoing battle to protect the people and treat each other like humans. The city has had incidents where ICE has arrested people without warrant and people have not spoken out or reached out to police to ask for help out of fear. Although the time seems grim for undocumented immigrants, there are community organizations like Jountos that are helping immigrants. Olivia Vaquez a former community organizer for Juntos says to all immigrants , “ We have always been deported. Yes, the chances increase under the Trump administration, but that does not mean we stop. I want them to remember two things and one is that you are not alone and to not be afraid. We have to stay together and continue to fight.”
On July 28th, 2018 Mayor Kenney did not renew the contract that allows federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to access a key law-enforcement database, known as PARS, and use that information against undocumented but otherwise law-abiding immigrants in Philadelphia.
“I cannot in good conscience allow the agreement to continue,” he said.
Philly will be offering municipal IDs to anyone who does not have one. A Municipal ID, or a city ID, allows a person to have access for everyday citizen needs. In Philly it pertains to getting groceries from food pantries, treatment for drug addiction, entry to City Hall, entry to municipal buildings, and possibly more. The cards will be issued to anyone 13 and above to provide some form of identification when asked. They will cost probably around $10-$15 judging from Chicago's price.
However, there is a big controversy. With the municipal IDs being provided in the most ideal situations, the people who would most likely apply for them are the undocumented. If they were stopped by ICE and asked to take out their ID that might create a problem considering that most Philadelphians would have a PA state ID, but having a city ID would hint that the person is possibly undocumented, possibly making it easier for ICE to identify them. On the other hand, many people argue that Philadelphia is on its way to becoming a sanctuary city and that this is a first step to help people.