Will Pittsburgh Become an Official Sanctuary City?
In January 2017, following President Trump’s signing of an executive order on immigration that included language stripping federal funding for “sanctuary cities” in the United States, Mayor of Pittsburgh Bill Peduto released a statement in support of immigrants. In his statement, Mayor Peduto said, “We will resist, with all powers at our disposal, any attempt to commandeer our local law enforcement officers into a national deportation army.”
Although Pittsburgh is not currently an official “sanctuary city,” that could soon change. A petition circulated by the Pittsburgh Sanctuary City Coalition obtained the minimum number of signatures necessary to require a public hearing on the matter per city rules. The hearing will take place this week, on July 12, 2017, at 2 p.m. at the Pittsburgh City-County Building.
Sanctuary cities limit their cooperation with the federal government’s efforts to enforce immigration law. Leaders of sanctuary cities hope to ease the fear of deportation and the possible break-up of families with members who are in the United States unlawfully. Immigrants in sanctuary cities tend to be more willing to report crimes, use health and social services, and enroll their children in school.
Currently, Pittsburgh police have been directed to not ask about immigration status or detain a person based solely on the person’s immigration status. However, Pittsburgh police officers do cooperate with federal law enforcement agencies – such as ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) – when there is a criminal warrant.
Some of the Pittsburgh Sanctuary City Coalition demands include:
- City services being made available to all residents, regardless of immigration status
- No Pittsburgh city or country agency should inquire about or investigate the immigration status of any person
- No Pittsburgh city or county agency should arrest or detain a person solely based on the belief that the person is in the United States unlawfully
- All ICE vehicles should be marked with appropriate Homeland Security identification
It is yet to be determined if Pittsburgh will join the list of official sanctuary cities in the United States, but our mayor has made his feelings regarding immigrants known. Mayor Peduto concluded his January 2017 statement as follows: “Pittsburgh is, has been, and always will be a welcoming city and a diverse city. It’s in our nature. We are a tough city, a blue collar city and a city with a big heart. We will continue to show everyone the respect and compassion they deserve – regardless of who they are, where they’re from, who they love or how they found their way to our beloved city.”
Caruso Law Group is a Pittsburgh-based immigration law firm. We believe that immigrants add to the vibrant fabric of the United States and make positive impacts on the Pittsburgh area communities in which they live. If you would like to discuss your unique immigration situation with Attorney Caruso, please contact our office for a free consultation!