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Identity & Community

Advocates Urge Pittsburgh City Council To Adopt Legal Sanctuary City Status

Virginia Alvino Young
90.5 WESA
A few dozen speakers addressed Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday, July 12, 2017, asking for Sanctuary City legislation.

Dozens of supporters of Sanctuary City legislation offered emotional testimony to Pittsburgh City Council Wednesday after residents petitioned for a public hearing.

Many attendees urged council members to go beyond welcome signs and take legal steps to further protect the city’s immigrants.

Ramerio Reyes, a member of the activist group FURIA, comprised of mothers and children who oppose deportation, spoke through fellow activist Brenda Solkez, who translated.

“And the truth [is], I am very afraid that they will take away my kids,” Reyes said.

Councilman Dan Gilman said the title of “Sanctuary City” wouldn’t affect much in Pittsburgh.  

“It is not good enough," he said, to Google steps taken in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle. "The rules are not the same; the jail is not a city jail. None of us have any say over the jail, which is a fundamental aspect of many sanctuary cities.”

Gilman said it is already against the law for Pittsburgh police to ask for immigration status.

He said he’ll continue building off previous bills he helped passed earlier this year which ensure access to city services and call for a language access plan, among other things.