Do Not Punish Cities That Refuse to Illegally Detain Immigrants

Target: Mike Turzai, Speaker of the PA House of Representatives

Goal: Do not pass bill that will financially punish sanctuary cities.

Sanctuary cities and counties are so called because they do not illegally detain immigrants in the country, but those places are now at risk of being punished financially if the Pennsylvania House votes to pass a new bill. The bill refers to them as “municipalities of refuge,” and they follow the laws of our country above requests from the federal government that immigrants who would otherwise be released from custody instead be detained by the state even after all charges against them have been dropped.

Although only five Pennsylvania counties are identified by the bill as sanctuaries, there are 32 others with policies that would be affected. The majority of these counties will not honor an immigration detainer request unless it is accompanied by a judicial order or arrest warrant. This helps protect them from legal liability — in the past, counties have followed a federal detainment request only to be sued for improperly detaining a legal citizen.

If this bill passes, sanctuary cities will no longer be eligible for state law enforcement grants, and would become financially liable for any crimes committed by those released from custody. This means these municipalities are put in a lose-lose situation: they are at risk financially and legally if they blindly follow federal detainer requests, and if they don’t. It places a huge burden on these cities for doing nothing more than obeying the law, and punishes them for honoring basic human rights and providing a safe haven to people who have done nothing more than be born outside of the U.S. Sign below and demand this bill be stopped.


Dear Speaker Turzai,

The bill being presented to the PA House of Representatives regarding punishment for sanctuary cities, or “municipalities of refuge,” cannot be allowed to pass. The bill unjustly condemns counties for obeying written laws and for honoring basic human rights, regardless of where the person in question was born.

Sanctuary cities face the prospect of being financially liable for not obeying detainer requests from the government when the immigrant in question would otherwise be released from custody after the charges against them were dropped or their bail was posted. Especially without an accompanying arrest warrant or judicial order, this detainment is not legal, and therefore these counties can be held accountable legally and sued for improper detainment if they obey the federal request, but would also be penalized and withheld state law enforcement grants if they don’t. This puts these municipalities in an impossible position, and encourages the miscarriage of justice by disregarding the laws of the land and the human rights of immigrants. I urge you to uphold the sanctity of the law, to protect sanctuary cities, and not to pass this bill.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Joseph Kranak

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One Comment

  1. Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

    this is so unacceptable!

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