Philadelphia city officials have asked to meet with local leadership of Immigration and Customs Enforcement within the next week to discuss a data-sharing arrangement known as PARS that’s been central to protests over the last several weeks.
City Solicitor Marcel S. Pratt, in a letter dated Thursday, expressed concern about how ICE officials use the city-operated Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System, a database of arrests that’s shared with ICE via a contract that ends Aug. 31. Some immigration activists have said ICE uses that information to racially profile residents and target noncriminal undocumented immigrants.
In the letter, Pratt said it was “imperative” that city officials and ICE discuss whether renewing the contract “is in the best interest of the city and its residents.”
The letter, obtained by the Inquirer and Daily News, also said it wanted to “discuss immediately” whether ICE had breached terms of the PARS contract. Under a 2010 amendment to the contract, ICE agreed it would not use information about witnesses to or victims of crimes to initiate immigration investigations or deportation proceedings.
Officials operating on behalf of Mayor Kenney want to meet before next Thursday with Gregory Brawley, acting field office director of ICE’s location on Eighth Street in Chinatown, where “Occupy ICE” protesters were camped out for days last week. If ICE officials decline the meeting or fail to respond to the city’s request, it may result in the termination of the PARS contract, Pratt wrote.
On Monday, Kenney discussed the PARS contract with immigration activists, as well as protesters from “Occupy ICE,” the encampment-style demonstration that started at the ICE office on Eighth and is now located at City Hall. The termination of the PARS agreement is among the group’s demands.
District Attorney Larry Krasner opposes any renewal, but Kenney’s office has indicated that it hasn’t made a decision on the pact.
The mayor said last Friday during a news conference that his office is weighing how terminating the arrangement could affect court proceedings related to the city’s case against the Trump administration regarding its status as a “sanctuary city.”
Last month, a federal judge sided with Philadelphia officials, ruling that the administration’s attempt to withhold $1.5 million of federal grant money because the city refused to share certain information with ICE was illegal.