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Faith Leaders Denounce Anti-Immigrant Legislation

Opponents of HB 1885 say it would tear apart immigrant families. (Fibonacci Blue/flickr.com)
Opponents of HB 1885 say it would tear apart immigrant families. (Fibonacci Blue/flickr.com)
October 25, 2016

PHILADELPHIA – Pennsylvania faith leaders are asking lawmakers to reject an anti-immigrant bill they say will make communities less safe. More than 200 faith leaders from across the state have sent a letter opposing House Bill 1885.

According to Peter Pedemonti, the executive director of the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, by encouraging police to question and detain those suspected of being undocumented, the bill would destroy trust between the immigrant community and police.

"This would push people back into the shadows, greatly increase fear in the immigrant community, increase racial profiling, and also, this would tear more families apart," he explained.

Supporters of the bill say it would protect the interests of Pennsylvanians over those of foreign nationals who are here illegally.

HB 1885 also would penalize localities that limit their cooperation in deportation efforts. Pedemonti said Philadelphia, which is a sanctuary city, is now growing for the first time in 60 years, growth he credits to a thriving immigrant community.

"So policies like sanctuary-city policies allow us to grow and to thrive," he said. "And I'm not talking just about the immigrant community; I'm talking about all of us."

Currently, there are 32 counties across Pennsylvania that have some type of restriction on their cooperation with immigration authorities.

Pedemonti said the faith leaders who signed the letter opposing HB 1885 come from all over the state and from a wide variety of religious denominations.

"The faith letter shows two things," he added. "One, it would greatly harm immigrants and non-immigrants throughout Pennsylvania, and, two, that this bill would be a serious violation of our faith values."

HB 1885 passed in the House last week and Pedemonti said it could come up for a vote in the Senate as soon as today.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA