Mayor Jim Kenney and City Solicitor Marcel Pratt recently announced that Philadelphia will not renew its agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that allows ICE to access the Philadelphia Police Department’s PARS database.
What is PARS?
PARS stands for Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System. In Philadelphia, PARS is a records database that the courts, police, the District Attorney’s Office, and other law enforcement authorities use.
For a time, and under certain conditions, Philadelphia — including the Philadelphia Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office, and the First Judicial District — agreed to share certain limited information from PARS with ICE.
That agreement expires on August 31, 2018.
Why Philadelphia will not renew the agreement
After months of conversations with local immigrants, advocates, community organizations, and criminal justice agencies, we engaged in a comprehensive review of the PARS agreement with ICE.
The decision to not renew came after this review. We based it on several considerations, including how ICE said it used PARS. In fact, when we expressed our concerns, ICE confirmed that it uses PARS in a way we find unacceptable.
For instance, ICE officials explained that the way they used PARS could result in immigration enforcement action against Philadelphians who haven’t been arrested, accused of, or convicted of any crime.
There were many other concerns.
When we asked for more information after outlining additional concerns, ICE never responded.
Ending the agreement makes Philadelphia safer and more welcoming
One of the main problems with ICE’s use of PARS involves the impact on local crime prevention efforts. By using PARS to enforce immigration rules, ICE was creating the impression that the City plays a part in immigration enforcement. In turn, that had a chilling effect on law-abiding Philadelphians who then were less likely to report crime or suspicious activity out of fear of ICE contact that would end with them or their loved ones being deported.
Good relations with immigrant communities is important to the police. Ending the agreement will continue to build trust with our immigrant communities and contribute to effective community policing. This relationship will allow people to report crimes making it easier for the Philadelphia Police Department to solve crimes, like illegal drug sales, domestic violence, homicide, and assault.
It’s important to know that ending the PARS agreement with ICE has no effect on any other law enforcement activities, like coordination with the FBI, DEA, U.S. Attorney’s Office, or other federal agencies. The City will also continue to cooperate with other divisions of the Department of Homeland Security on other matters like human trafficking.
Along with helping us fight crime, ending the PARS agreement with ICE affirms Philadelphia’s place as a welcoming city open to all seeking the American dream. Allowing a City database to be used by federal authorities to arrest Philadelphians who haven’t been arrested, accused of, or convicted of a crime conflicts with our core values.
To help residents understand their rights and protections, we’ve put together action guides on federal policies. These action guides, found below, include facts, ways to help, and other resources.