Kenney doubles down on Philadelphia's Sanctuary City status

"I want everyone to understand that cities, including Philadelphia, have been the bastion of protection for minorities, LGBT people, for immigrants and we're not walking this back," Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said Tuesday.

Mayor Kenney went off script Tuesday to say he is standing his ground on sanctuary cities.

After a brief speech at the Community College of Philadelphia on the work his administration has done in his first year, Kenney went on to say that it remains to be seen what direction the country will take under President-elect Donald Trump.

"I am hopeful, but cautious," Kenney said. "I want everyone to understand that cities, including Philadelphia, have been the bastion of protection for minorities, LGBT people, for immigrants, and we're not walking this back."

Kenney said the city would cooperate with the next president in "anything that is positive."

"But we are not walking back on civil rights, we're not walking back on minority rights, we're not walking back on LGBT rights, we're not walking back on sanctuary city, we're not walking back on anything we've established to make our city progressive," Kenney said to loud applause from the group of more than 100.

Kenney said the country had come a long way, through some struggles, to gain rights for women and African Americans.

"Whatever comes, we will deal with it, and we will deal with it in a positive way," he said.

A few days after the election of Trump, Kenney said he believed the law was on Philadelphia's side when it comes to sanctuary cities.

"We respect and live up to the Fourth Amendment, which means you can't be held against your will without a warrant from the court signed by a judge. So, yeah, we will continue to be a Fourth Amendment city, abiding by the Constitution," Kenney said at the time.

Sanctuary cities do not cooperate with federal immigration officials in holding undocumented immigrants in custody for nonviolent crimes. Trump has threatened to withhold federal funds from cities that adopt the practice.

Lauren Hitt, Kenney's spokeswoman, said this week that the last communication the administration had with the Department of Homeland Security was in early October. Those talks did not result in any changes to the city's policy.

"We've had no conversations with DHS since the election, and, consequently, we've had no conversations with them about the impact of a Trump presidency on the city's immigration policy," Hitt said.

On Tuesday, Kenney stayed on message that he plans to keep Philadelphia as a sanctuary city.

He encouraged everyone to be positive, including himself.

"I've actually committed myself to not do anything negative on Twitter again," he said to some laughs from the crowd.

He closed out his speech by telling people to stick together.

"Make the city what it should be, and that's inclusive and diverse and productive and positive and reduce that poverty rate," he said.

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