PHILADELPHIAAt a press conference today, Mayor Kenney and City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante released the following statements in response to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) preliminary review of the City’s certification of compliance with 8 U.S.C Section 1373.  The City disputes the conclusions of the preliminary review and the City will continue to dispute the need for certification in court.  The City’s last JAG grant was worth approximately $1.6 million and funded resources for police and criminal justice reform.

“While I firmly believe the City complies with federal laws, the City’s position for some time has been that the Attorney General has overstepped his authority in even requiring us to comply with 8 U.S.C Section 1373 as a condition of a grant that has nothing to do with immigration enforcement. That’s why we filed a lawsuit against the DOJ on August 30,” said Mayor Kenney. “In my view, the DOJ’s actions have all been about political showmanship – they have nothing to do with the grant money to which the City is entitled.  They also have nothing to do with keeping our communities safe.  Philadelphia is at a 40-year low in crime – in no small part because of the hard-won trust our current policies have helped build between police and immigrant communities. If victims and witnesses do not feel safe cooperating with the police, every Philadelphian will be less safe.”

City Solicitor Tulante added, “In August, the City filed a lawsuit in federal court that is pending before Judge Baylson, in which we oppose other conditions hastily and illegitimately added to JAG grants for 2017, as well as the Section 1373 certification requirements.

“With respect to the letter the DOJ sent today, just because DOJ raises these issues does not mean it is correct in what it says.  DOJ is simply wrong in its preliminary review.   But these narrow issues are only part of a broader dispute regarding DOJ’s authority to impose these conditions on Byrne JAG grants at all.  We look forward to the ongoing court process in which we are confident we will prevail in our effort to stop DOJ from what it is doing here.  And we are confident, moreover, that to the extent these particular issues even need to be decided – and we believe they do not – we will prevail on them as well.”