What’s the Fuss over Sanctuary Cities in Pennsylvania?

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What’s the Fuss over Sanctuary Cities in Pennsylvania?

Senator Pat Toomey doesn’t like sanctuary cities. He’s trying to make it a big issue in his campaign for re-election. So what are sanctuary cities?

When the federal government passes a law, it cannot direct state or local police to enforce that law. These agencies can cooperate with the federal government, but they are under no obligation to do so. Some cities, such as Philadelphia, use this leeway to refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. While policies differ in municipalities that term themselves “sanctuary cities,” local police in these cities generally do not inquire about the immigration status of people they arrest. They also do not comply with federal orders asking them to continue detaining illegal immigrants who would otherwise be released from custody.


Senator Toomey sponsored legislation that would deny federal Economic Development Assistance and Community Development Block Grant funding for cities that do not share information about an individual’s immigration status with the federal government or that refuse to comply with an immigration detention order. In a July vote, that bill failed to gain the 60 votes necessary to proceed in the Senate.


According to Senator Toomey, “Sanctuary cities also create serious obstacles for the war on terror” by limiting local law enforcement cooperation with the federal government. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney disagrees, saying Sen. Toomey’s claims are “nothing more than fearmongering to further his re-election campaign.”


Katie McGinty, who is challenging Sen. Toomey, says, “No one thinks sanctuary cities are the solution, but it’s the result of the immigration crisis Senator Toomey made worse.  Instead of trying to help Philadelphia solve this problem, he opposed comprehensive immigration reform and is now embracing the hateful policies of Donald ‘let’s build a wall’ Trump.”

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