PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Kenney today announced that he will be asking City Council and the voters of Philadelphia to approve an amendment to the Home Rule Charter that would make permanent the Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA).

“The importance of the immigrant community to the health and well-being of Philadelphia cannot be overstated,” said Mayor Kenney. “Making the Office of Immigrant Affairs permanent acknowledges their enormous contribution to the fabric of our City, and ensures that immigrants will always have a voice in city government.”

A proposed ordinance and companion resolution — seeking Council approval for the Charter change proposal to appear on the May 2019 primary ballot — are expected to be transmitted to City Council this Thursday.

“The work of OIA has been invaluable to the City,” said First Deputy Managing Director Brian Abernathy. “I hope to expand the role of the office so that we can continue to strengthen city policies and programs that benefit our immigrant communities. This move is, frankly, long overdue.”

Mayor Kenney also announced that he is modifying internal procedures governing certain requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the City.  Specifically, he is expanding the number of City officials who are briefed in instances when ICE requests that it be notified of the release of certain individuals from incarceration, or when ICE requests to detain those individuals.  Previously, evaluation of those requests was overseen solely by the Managing Director’s Office. Going forward, the Director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Office of the City Solicitor and the Office of the Deputy Managing Director for Criminal Justice and Public Safety will be notified of those requests. These changes go into effect immediately.  The City’s Welcoming City policies, found in Executive Orders 8-09 and 5-16, remain unchanged.

“Taken together, these measures — ensuring the permanence of OIA, and expanding its role in ensuring compliance with our Welcoming City policies — are designed to strengthen relationships with our immigrant community,” said Miriam Enriquez, Director of OIA. “Many in our immigrant communities are understandably concerned about their futures. These efforts are just part of the City’s work to reassure them that Philadelphia is, and will remain, a Welcoming City.”

The first City office to address immigrant issues was established by then-Mayor Nutter in 2013. Mayor Kenney established the current Office of Immigrant Affairs through executive order in 2016. “Memorializing the Office of Immigrant Affairs in the City Charter will ensure both its permanence and independence,” said Joanna Otero Cruz, Deputy Managing Director of Community Services. “The Office will, as a result, be stronger.  And in turn, our immigrant communities will be comforted with the knowledge that they will always have a voice as this great city grows and prospers.”

The mission of the Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) is to promote the well-being of Philadelphia’s immigrant communities by recommending and developing policies and programs that provide opportunity and access to services. Some of the ways OIA accomplishes this is by:

  • Implementing policies and programs and ensuring access to services that strengthen the well-being of Philadelphia’s immigrant communities.
  • Facilitating the successful inclusion of immigrants into the civic, economic, and cultural life of the city.

Highlighting the essential role that immigrants have played and continue to play in our city.