A candidate for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat says sanctuary cities — or jurisdictions that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities — actually make people safer.
“Sanctuary cities is another policy that I very much support. Sanctuary cities — again statistically — makes everybody safer, makes everybody better. But the other side wants to demonize that,” Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, a candidate for U.S. Senate, said at a West Chester University College Democrats Meeting in Pennsylvania this week, adding that he thinks populism has a dark side.
The issue of sanctuary cities was front page news last summer following the murder of Kathryn Steinle, allegedly at the hands of a multiple deportee illegal immigrant with a long rap sheet. The alleged shooter had been released from custody after the sanctuary city of San Francisco ignored an immigration hold on him.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, each month the approximately 340 sanctuary jurisdictions in the U.S. release about 1,000 criminal immigrants, wanted by Customs and Immigration Enforcement, from custody.
Despite recent high profile murders, terrorism, and more than 347,000 convicted criminal immigrants at large in the U.S., Fetterman argued — in a clip of the meeting obtained by Breitbart News — that populism concerned about sanctuary cities, immigrant crime and refugees from terrorist hot-spots is actually xenophobic.
“Because there is a dark side to populism and that is what the other side seems to be tapping into. If you’re the wrong color, if you’re the wrong religion, if you come from the wrong country, you’re automatically suspect,” Fetterman, who has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, said.
In that vein, the mayor of Braddock also slammed critics of Syrian refugee resettlement as “un-American.”
“Of course there could be a bad apple coming in, but if you’re telling me that a little five-year-old orphan from Syria should get frozen out that’s just un-American,” he said.
“If we’re going to continue down this path where we demonize immigrants and treat them like they’re some kind of biohazard and not realize that that’s where we came from, our families came from,” Fetterman said. “Then we need to take the Statue of Liberty down, it doesn’t say send us your best and your brightest and your software engineers and your PhDs. It’s a very different message.”
According to Fetterman, the country needs to adopt a “comprehensive approach” to immigration without delay. He added that native-born Americans are more likely to commit crimes than immigrants, despite the complexity and difficulties in comparing immigrant and native-born crime.
“And realize that the overwhelming majority — and this is a statistical fact — that immigrants commit crime at a far lower rate than native-born,” he said,
Fetterman is running for the Democratic nomination to unseat incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) against former Rep. Joe Sestak, Katie McGinty.
When asked for the source of the statistics he cited, in an email to Breitbart News, Fetterman pointed to an October 2015 Reason magazine article arguing the safety of sanctuary cities and a July 2015 Wall Street Journal commentary pointing to studies that show immigrants commit less crimes.