Metro: Babette Josephs down on ‘Secure Communities’ initiaitve

A city-state-federal policing partnership criticized as threatening the civil rights of immigrant populations in Philadelphia was the focus of a short brief I had in today’s Metro, following a brief interview with state. Rep. Babette Josephs following a press conference in City Hall.

Read it here.

I wrote a fairly large profile of Josephs for the Inquirer last summer. Fair or not, a group of self-labeled reformers in Harrisburg called Josephs a mythological three-headed dog.

I was unable to include a brief interview I had with City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez on the matter, portions of which you can see after the jump, in addition to quotes from Josephs that were cut, more from the Nutter administration, other sources and one interesting concept of the story that didn’t make it into the piece.

Just this week, CityPaper had a more in-depth piece on Secure Communities.

The note announcing the press release can be seen here. Some more perspective from the left, via Young Philly Politics, can be seen here. Some news coverage of the initiative from California here and some from Arizona here.

The federal government gives its take on the initiative here.

Something that the other reports didn’t address, but Josephs mentioned to me, though space prohibited its inclusion:

“We’re also about to do the [national] census, and we count documented and undocumented people so we can really know our country, to get an accurate snapshot. The people who are chilled by this program are hesitant to come forward and be counted. Yet those are the communities that we definitely need to count so we know who is here, for funding roads and schools and lunch programs… A lot of these people come from countries where the police have conduct that is unprofessional, and then they come here and we show them the same kind of thing.”

A few other items from Josephs that didn’t make it into the piece:

  • “The real obligation of the federal government here is to do comprehensive immigration reform. … Instead the immigration authorities are reaching into local communities to get them to do the job that needs to be done by Washington. I call on our senators and representatives to start working on a comprehensive approach to this immigration problem.”
  • “The city administration can resist. The city certainly has resisted state and federal policy on gun ownership and we’re continuously in court fighting that, and if we end up in court fighting this program, it will be for the better. The city resisting would be the first step. The pressure is on them… to do the right thing. Philadelphia, a city of immigrants, should resist.”
  • “We are calling on the city to resist this program, a great port city, and calling on federal authorities.”
  • “I’m always optimistic [about the future of federal initiatives]. The president has committed himself to proposing comprehensive overarching legislative. He’s no slouch. We have such a number of voters, particularly from the Spanish speaking world, who want this. The fallout will be the compassionate.”

Some additional perspective from the Nutter administration via spokesman Doug Oliver:

  • “This is not a new program. The police have been sharing information with ICE since 2005, but in the past we had to fax that  information… Now it is automatically pooled.”
  • “Only individuals charged with a crime will be fingerprinted, not witnesses or victims, so this shouldn’t have a chilling affect on communities who need to come forward to police.”
  • “This relationship with the federal government was already standard procedure.”
  • What if someone is wrongly accused, I asked? “Well, if you reach the point where you are being finger-printed, the process will take place.”

Some pulls from the few minutes I shared with Councilwoman Quiñones-Sánchez on the phone:

  • “First, I am not in favor of people coming here illegally, but there is a big difference between being undocumented and being illegal… Many of the undocumented people we’re talking about are children who were born here so are, in fact, citizens…”
  • “We say we’re a city that welcomes immigrants and we know how important they are, but then this, well, this sends a contradictory message about our city.”
  • “We shouldn’t be doing this, it’s federal issue and we don’t have the training on our level.”
  • No estimate was given on how many people this could affect: “We focused on the spirit this is done, not the numbers,” she said.
  • “We’re taking processes that have issues already and creating mechanisms that can’t be used appropriately.”
  • “Pennsylvania takes federal money with caveats, and, as a first-class city, Philadelphia has to decide if this is right for us.”
  • “Ideally the mayor would say no to the feds in the sharing of this data, until we can really examine the implication,” she said. “I expect him to do so.”
  • “We’ve seen ICE be very heavy-handed, clearly this information sharing has an ulterior motive to bad consequences.

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