As the Trump Administration continues to enact policies at odds with many Philadelphians’ beliefs, we understand the frustration or anger many of you are feeling. One of the most important things you can do is turn that anger into action: talk to your friends or neighbors, volunteer your time with a local community group, or donate to one of the many organizations that stands up for our residents.

To help you take action, the City put together guides that include quick facts, ways you can help, and other resources.

Here’s our action guide, on immigration and “sanctuary cities.”

Philadelphia is a city of immigrants.

America was founded on the belief that everyone is created equal—and every person means every person, no exceptions. Philadelphia treats immigrants as we would any other resident under our criminal justice system.

Quick Facts: Why Immigrants Are Important To Philadelphia

1. More undocumented immigrants live in Philadelphia than in any of the largest Northeast American cities, except New York City, according to research conducted by the Pew Research CenterAnd many of our families are mixed, which means that some family members are documented, but their parents or siblings may not be.

2. Immigrants have played a significant role in Philadelphia’s population growth in recent years, helping to reverse fifty years of population loss, strengthening our city as a whole. In some Philadelphia neighborhoods, the influx of immigrants has prevented destabilizing blight, improved public schools, and helped spur growth in neighborhood commercial corridors.

3. The economic impact of Philadelphia’s immigrant population is significant as the city looks to both grow revenue and create jobs. From 2000 – 2013, immigrants were responsible for 96% of the Main Street neighborhood business growth. The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Roadmap for Growth reported that since 2000, immigrants are responsible for 75% of the workforce growth. Of the nearly one billion dollars in earnings generated by small business owners in the City of Philadelphia, immigrant entrepreneurs are responsible for $295 million of those earnings, according to the Americas Society/Council of the Americas.  

Quick Facts: What Is A “Sanctuary City?”

1. There is no legal or uniform definition of what constitutes a “sanctuary city.” There is also a lot of misinformation about what cities like Philadelphia, New York, New Orleans, Chicago and others do with regards to law enforcement and immigrants.  Philadelphia works with our federal partners on anti-terrorism and drug trafficking task forces, and we also do not stop ICE from arresting Philadelphians whom they believe are undocumented. We require that our police officers do not ask about the documentation status of people they encounter. We have this policy because research has shown and most law enforcement leaders, like the Major Cities Chiefs Association, believe that trust between officers and immigrant communities is essential to reducing crime and helping victims.

2. Philadelphia’s policies upholds our country’s shared values. America was founded on the belief that everyone is created equal — and every person means every person, no exceptions. Blaming an entire group of people for our country’s problems and violating their right to due process isn’t constitutional and it isn’t American. Philadelphia treats immigrants as we would any other resident under our criminal justice system.

3. Philadelphia’s policies uphold the Golden Rule. Immigrants move here for the promise of freedom and opportunity, often fleeing dangerous circumstances. If any one of us had to uproot our lives and our families to create a better future, we would want others to show us understanding and respect, not implement policies that tear our families apart. Treating others the way we wish to be treated applies in good times and bad. We must ensure the right of every family in America to live together, free from danger.

4. Philadelphia’s policies recognize that our strength is grounded in our ability to work together. Philadelphia has seen a resurgence as our immigration population has grown. Decades of population decline have reversed, immigrant businesses are responsible for the majority of our Main Street neighborhood business growth, and crime is at a 40 year low.  Philadelphia works best when we all do our part and work together, which is why city law enforcement does work with our federal partners to fight drug trafficking and prevent terrorism. But Philadelphia will resist any federal order that attempts to turn Philadelphians against one another and makes us weaker and less safe. 

5. Philadelphia’s policies support and respect local and federal law enforcement, and helps them do their jobs. Philadelphia works with our federal partners on anti-terrorism and drug trafficking task forces, and we also do not stop ICE from arresting Philadelphians whom they believe are undocumented. The Major Cities Chiefs Association supports “sanctuary cities” because they believe that cities that aim to build trusting and supportive relations with immigrant communities should not be punished because this is essential to reducing crime and helping victims, and the research backs them up. Accordingly, our police officers do not ask about the documentation status of those they encounter.

6. Philadelphia’s policies follow judicial orders. Philadelphia’s Prison System only responds to ICE requests to turn over a detainee if ICE has a judicial, criminal warrant. We have this policy because federal courts have said it is unconstitutional for us to do otherwise. We won’t comply if a detainer request is supported only by an “administrative” warrant.  An administrative warrant is a more formal way for ICE to say, “please hold onto the person because we want you to.” A City can’t just hold someone without a legal basis. If all we receive is an administrative request from ICE, without a judicial warrant, it is unlawful for us to hold a person  based on that piece of paper alone.

Quick Facts: Federal Funding and Sanctuary Cities

1. The President’s Executive Order to defund sanctuary cities was put on hold by a federal judge, Judge William H. Orrick. The Court said that the Executive Order is unconstitutional—for many reasons. Only Congress has the authority to create conditions for funding; the President can’t do it on his own.

2. Even though the President’s Executive Order was put on hold, Philadelphia and other cities are still being asked by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to certify that we comply with a provision related to federal immigration law, 8 U.S.C. Section 1373, in order to receive certain federal grants.  On June 22, the City sent a letter to DOJ certifying  that we comply with Section 1373 under our current policies. Section 1373 says that a city may not prohibit its employees from sending information to ICE about people’s immigration status. Since Philadelphia law enforcement and other City officials generally are not permitted to collect immigration information from our residents, there is no information to provide to ICE. Moreover, our policies do not prohibit information sharing with respect to criminal suspects, which is all that Section 1373 can lawfully be read to address.

3. Section 1373, or any other federal statute, does not actually require us to honor civil detainers, which are requests ICE sends to hold people. Detainers  are not findings or evidence of probable cause that criminal conduct was committed. Section 1373 does not speak to detainers. And as Judge Orrick found, if the federal government tries to force cities to hold undocumented persons whenever ICE requests it, that is a type of coercion and commandeering of local officials that the Tenth Amendment forbids.

4. Under the law, the federal government is limited in how it can use its spending power to force changes in state and local policies. We believe that the funding that is most at risk is for law enforcement because under the law there has to be some connection between the funds that the federal government is seeking to cut and the policy being complained about. However, the President’s Executive Order on defunding so-called “sanctuary cities” makes clear that the federal government would use its discretion and that they would be cautious about cutting law enforcement funding.

Quick Facts: State Funding and Sanctuary Cities

1. The Pennsylvania State Senate introduced and passed SB10 to “defund sanctuary cities.” The bill does not clearly identify what state funding is at issue, therefore it is unclear the amount of state funding at stake. Last fiscal year, the City received a total of about $790 million from the state. Much of this funding that the City receives is for expenditures that we are required to make — for example for the protection of children in the child welfare system. Other large portions of this money are for reimbursement for carrying on duties the state wants and needs us to provide.

2. SB 10 is not just about Philadelphia. It defines sanctuary cities so broadly that it also jeopardizes state funding for a host of jurisdictions well beyond the 18 other ones that have been identified as sanctuary cities. Cutting critical state funds for all sanctuary cities and other jurisdictions across the state would impact every Pennsylvanian.  

3. The House introduced another bill, HB 28, to defund sanctuary cities. This bill is different in that it specifically inhibits the cities from having police non-disclosure policies. This could force police departments to become extensions of ICE, and erode the hard-won trust between police and immigrant communities.   

4. It’s unclear how the state could force Philadelphia to comply with detainer requests. Because we must follow the United States Constitution and only respond to detainer requests to turn over a detainee to ICE, if ICE has a judicial, criminal warrant, it is unclear the extent to which the state can force compliance with federal detainer requests as a condition of receiving state funding.   

5. Governor Wolf has not publicly committed to vetoing either of these bills. So we encourage concerned residents to call his office and tell him it’s important to you.

Quick Facts: President Trump’s “Muslim Ban” Executive Order

1. On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued his third travel ban (Travel Ban 3). This ban replaces the previous Executive Orders signed in March (Travel Ban 2) and January 2017 (Travel Ban 1).  This ban targets nationals of eight countries –Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia — six of which have predominantly Muslim populations. The third travel ban continues travel limitations with respect to five of the six countries covered by the Travel Ban 2 – Somalia, Syria, Libya, Iran and Yemen – and imposes new restrictions on three more – North Korea, Chad and Venezuela.  

2. This new order has two effective dates.  The third travel ban  applies immediately (September 24, 2017, as of 3:30p.m.) to nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen who lack a “bona fide relationship” with someone in the United States, which are the five countries named in the March 2017 travel ban.  There has been a lot of legal action around what a “bona fide relationship” means. Currently, a “bona fide relationship” includes a spouse, parent, parent-in-law, child, grandparent, grandchild, fiancé, sibling, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, or cousin of persons in the United States.  Otherwise, the order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on October 18, 2017.  This applies to individuals from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia who have a bona fide relationship with someone in the United States, as well as all nationals of Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela  

3. The new travel ban does not have a “sunset date,” meaning the new restrictions will remain in place indefinitely.  In releasing the new order, President Trump cited threats to national security posed by letting the targeted countries’ citizens into the United States and noted that the restrictions will remain in effect until the governments of the affected nations “satisfactorily address the identified inadequacies.”

4. The third Travel  ban does not address refugees.  Admission of refugees is still temporarily suspended by the president’s March executive order (Travel Ban 2), but those provisions are set to expire on October 24.  New rules for refugees are expected to be announced within days.

5. The travel ban does not apply to the following individuals:

  • permanent residents;
  • those who are admitted or paroled into the U.S. before the effective date of the order (September 24, 2017 or October 18, 2017);
  • those with valid visas or those who have a document other than a visa – such as a transportation letter, appropriate boarding foil, or advance parole document –valid by the effective date of the order; or
  • dual nationals traveling using their passport from an unrestricted country;
  • certain diplomatic visa holders;
  • asylees already granted status as of the effective date of the order;
  • those granted withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

6. The new ban created individual restrictions for each country. The new travel ban also differentiates between immigrants (who enter as legal permanent residents, or green card holders) and nonimmigrants (who enter for limited periods of time, for instance, as visitors or students).  The restrictions for countries are as follows:

Chad, Libya, and Yemen

  • Immigrants: all suspended.
  • Nonimmigrants: B1/B2 business and tourist visitors suspended.
  • Effective Date (Chad): October 18, 2017.
  • Effective Date (Libya and Yemen): Effective immediately for individuals who lack a “bona fide relationship” with with a person or entity in the U.S.; effective October 18; 2017 for individuals with a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the U.S.


  • Immigrants: all suspended.
  • Nonimmigrants: generally suspended, except for student (F and M) and exchange visitor (J) visa holders may be admitted, subject to enhanced screening and vetting.

North Korea and Syria

  • Immigrants: all suspended.
  • Nonimmigrants: all suspended.
  • Effective Date (North Korea): October 18, 2017.
  • Effective Date (Syria):   Effective immediately for individuals who lack a “bona fide relationship” with with a person or entity in the U.S.; effective October 18; 2017 for individuals with a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the U.S.


  • Certain government officials involved in screening and vetting procedures, and their immediate family members: suspended.
  • Immigrants: may be admitted, subject to appropriate additional measures to ensure traveler information remains current.
  • Nonimmigrants: may be admitted, subject to appropriate additional measures to ensure traveler information remains current.
  • Effective October 18, 2017.


  • Immigrants: all suspended.
  • Nonimmigrants: may be admitted, subject to additional scrutiny to determine if the applicant is connected to terrorist organizations or otherwise poses a threat to the national security or public safety of the U.S.
  • Effective immediately for individuals who lack a “bona fide relationship” with with a person or entity in the U.S.; effective October 18; 2017 for  individuals with a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the U.S.


  • Sudan was named in the prior travel ban but has been removed. Immigrants and nonimmigrants may now be admitted.

7. The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear arguments about the constitutionality of the prior travel ban (Travel Ban 2, issued March 6, 2017) on October 10, 2017. However, that argument has now been cancelled “pending further order of the Court.” The Court has asked for briefing addressing whether the case is moot — that is, no longer an actual dispute, in the wake of two developments: (1) Trump’s issuance of the new Travel Ban (Travel Ban 3) and (2) the scheduled expiration on October 24 of the second travel ban’s temporary refugee freeze.

8. While the Trump administration claims the travel ban  is needed for national security, it actually makes us all less safe. This order throws out decades of bipartisan progress on immigration and refugee policy made by both Republican and Democratic administrations without making us safer.

9. This order weakens our national and local economy.

Quick Facts: What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?

1. On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced the Trump administration decision, argued that DACA was an unlawful overreach by President Barack Obama and said he could not defend it.

2. The program was ended with a six month delay intended to allow Congress to act before the March 5, 2018. If your DACA permit expires between now and March 5, 2018 you can apply for a two-year renewal, but you must apply by October 5, 2017. 

3. As of September 5, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security will cut off all new applications immediately. Those whose DACA permits expire between now and March 5, 2018, can apply for a two-year renewal by October 5, 2017.  

3. DACA was an immigration option for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16. Although DACA did not provide a pathway to lawful permanent residency, it did provide temporary protection from deportation, allowed for work authorization, and the ability to apply for a social security number.

4. Over the last five years, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has changed the lives of nearly 800,000 young people. By providing the opportunity for people to come forward, pass rigorous background checks, and obtain permission to live and work in the United States lawfully, DACA has helped people pursue higher education, earn better wages to support their families, and buy homes.

5. To qualify for DACA, you needed to meet certain requirements. The requirements included:

  • You were under 31 years old as of June 15, 2012;
  • You first came to the United States before your 16th birthday;
  • You have lived continuously in the United States from June 15, 2007 until the present;
  • You are currently studying, or you graduated from high school or earned a certificate of completion of high school or GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or military (technical and trade school completion also qualifies); and
  • You have NOT been convicted of a felony, certain significant misdemeanors (including a single DUI), or three or more misdemeanors of any kind.

6If Congress does not act to renew DACA, nearly 800,000 young people would face the prospect of losing their ability to work and be at risk for deportation from the only country they call home. This would be a huge loss of opportunity, skills, and talent for our country.

7. If you are a DACA recipient or a family member of a DACA recipient here in Philadelphia, the City will continue to welcome you and stand with you. If you are a DACA recipient or a family member of a DACA recipient in Philadelphia, local organizations will provide safe places for families and DACA recipients to gather and gain more information.  In Philadelphia those places are:

  • SEAMAAC- 1711 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19148; Phone(215) 467-0690
  • Aquinas Center- 1700 Fernon St, Philadelphia, PA 19145; Phone: (267) 928-4048
  • New Sanctuary Movement- 2601 Potter St, Philadelphia, PA 19125; Phone (215) 279-7060
  • Juntos- 600 Washington Ave, Unit 18UA, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Phone 215) 218-9079    (Spanish Speaking)
  • Please follow PICC on facebook at Pennsylvania Immigration & Citizenship Coalition (PICC) @PAImmigrant.
  • Know Your Rights and Q&A Session Sept. 8th, 1:30 PM NSC Office, 1216 Arch Street, 4th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107   Contact Brenda Gorski for more info:

Get Involved: Immigrant Action Guide

1. Contact state legislators and Governor Wolf to express your concerns about state legislation to defund sanctuary cities. Pennsylvania’s State Senate recently passed SB10, a bill which would attempt to withhold all state grants from Pennsylvania’s 19 sanctuary jurisdictions. Philadelphia could be pushed to either violate the constitution or lose significant funding if this bill is passed by the House and signed by the Governor. So, please call the Governor and Democratic state house members and let them know that the way to resolve policy disagreements is not to attempt to defund entire municipalities.

2. Donate to an organization. Many refugee organizations are also facing defunding. So please consider contributing to a charitable organization that assists immigrants and refugees.

3. Volunteer for an organization. The Bar Association is organizing Take Action Philly, a gathering of the legal community to make sure we’re effectively marshaling all our legal resources in support of the immigrant community, and the city is supporting them in that efforts. You can also find a list of organizations who are looking for volunteers over on the City’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service. 

4. Support Philly’s refugee resettlement agencies. You can give your time, your money, or supplies to three local organizations through NeedsList.

5. The City has also compiled a list of local resources for our refugee and immigrant residents here. If you need help navigating any of these resources, or you think your organization should be listed here too, please contact the Office of Immigrant Affairs. We are always available to serve you.

6. Support DACA and DACA recipients by calling your representatives in Congress. You can also find additional ways to take action to help DACA recipients here.