Philadelphia GOP, White House Livid Over Philly Mayor’s Sanctuary City Celebration

Mayor James Kenney becomes the 99th mayor of Philadelphia at his inauguration at the Academy Of Music in Philadelphia on Jan. 4, 2016 (Star Shooter/MediaPunch/IPX)

Congressman and Senate candidate Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) said a court ruling that upheld Philadelphia’s sanctuary city status was no dancing matter even though Philly Mayor James Kenney couldn’t keep his feet quiet when he heard the news.


“That’s a really sad video to watch,” Barletta told FBN, “especially for me.”

“I don’t think the families of the victims in Philadelphia who were victims of illegal immigrants,” Barletta added, “I don’t think they’re dancing.”

A member of Kenney’s staff videotaped the City of Brotherly Love’s Democratic mayor dancing and singing “we’re a sanctuary city” after being told that federal Judge Michael Baylson ruled President Trump could not cut off federal grants to Philadelphia because of the way the city deals with illegal immigrants.

Fox News reported Baylson wrote in his decision that Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “public statements asserting that immigrants commit more crimes than native-born citizens, are inaccurate as applied to Philadelphia, and do not justify the imposition of these…conditions.”

Although Mayor Kenney might have been dancing and singing “we’re a sanctuary city,” a statement on Philadelphia’s website disagrees.

“There is no legal or uniform definition of what constitutes a ‘sanctuary city.’ We do not use that term. We are a ‘Welcoming City,’” Philly’s website declares.

However, the municipal website also makes it clear that city employees, including police officers, are not allowed “to ask about the documentation status of people they encounter.”


Whether it’s done under the umbrella of a “sanctuary” or a “welcoming” city, Judge Baylson decided Philadelphia’s policy of stopping cops and other officials from asking about a person’s immigration status was reasonable and appropriate.

That was enough to spark a song and dance from Kenney, which DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley called “a sad and disturbing reminder that politicians like Mayor Kenney prioritize political gain over the law-abiding residents of their own cities and the safety of the law enforcement officers that try to protect them.”

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told Fox News that Kenney’s dance was a “disgusting… celebration of a lawless decision.”

Michael Meehan, chairman of the Republican Party of Philadelphia, also criticized Kenney’s reaction to Baylson’s decision.

“This is more nonsensical virtue signaling to the Democratic Party’s radical base, rather than implementing the necessary changes to increase quality of life for the average Philadelphia resident,” Meehan said.

“Assistance from ICE to remove undocumented immigrants adding to the crime statistics in Philadelphia is what the mayor should have celebrated, not the reverse,” Meehan added.

Barletta, who hopes to unseat Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in November, predicted because of Mayor Kenney’s dance of celebration illegal immigration and Philly’s sanctuary city status would become “a big issue in this election.”


There’s no doubt that Barletta and Casey are on opposite sides of the debate. Although Casey has spoken in favor of doubling the number of Border Patrol agents and using advanced technology to improve surveillance of the United States’ southern border, he has also come out in support of a clear path to citizenship for so-called DREAMers, certain immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

“It is long past time that Washington gets serious about real immigration reform. That’s not amnesty. And that’s not deporting all 11 million undocumented immigrants,” Casey said in February.

“My Republican colleagues and President Trump seem to think that the best way to deal with immigration is to just deport everyone. That’s unworkable, and they know it. So let’s stop playing political games and get to work,” Casey added.

Barletta, on the other side of the debate, has been a longtime opponent of the sanctuary city concept.

“The local leaders who choose to follow this path are choosing to provide sanctuary to illegal activity. This puts Pennsylvania’s local communities and law enforcement in danger,” Barletta said in November 2017 after a judge blocked Trump’s executive order to cut federal funding to sanctuary cities.


Barletta introduced the Illegal Immigration Relief Act in 2006 while mayor of Hazleton, Pa. The law, which Barletta said was the first of its kind in the nation, was intended to penalize local employers who knew they were hiring illegal aliens.

He doesn’t want to see amnesty or citizenship for anyone in the U.S. illegally, DREAMers or not.

“There should not and cannot be a plan to offer amnesty to millions of illegal aliens until we secure the borders,” which Barletta also said should include every one of the nation’s international airports.

Barletta said that was only a logical course of action because “a homeowner would never replace the wet carpet while there was still a hole in the roof.”


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