York County D.A. asks McGinty to not support 'sanctuary cities'

Greg Gross

A group of 20 top law enforcement officials from across the state, including York County District Attorney Tom Kearney, are urging Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty to join efforts to get Philadelphia to end its so-called "sanctuary city" policy.

York County District Attorney Tom Kearney

A letter signed by the officials and sent to McGinty calls ending Philadephia's policy a bipartisan issue.

"As law enforcement officers, we believe public safety supersedes any and all political matters," the letter reads. "When we put aside our political differences and work together for the betterment of all Pennsylvanians, we can affect positive change that makes a real difference."

The letter was sent shortly after U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, the Republican incumbent facing McGinty in the November election, held a press conference in Philadelphia on Monday.

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During the press conference, Toomey criticized Philadephia Mayor Jim Kenney's 4-month-old policy ordering city authorities not to comply with federal detainer requests unless they are supported by a judicial warrant and concern someone being released after a conviction for certain violent crimes.

Sanctuary cities are jurisdiction in which a person isn't arrested for being an immigrant in the country illegally. The White House recently changed federal policy that could threaten the existence of sanctuary cities.

Policy: President Barack Obama reversed course earlier this year when he directed the federal Bureau of Prisons to hand immigrant prisoners who are finishing their sentences and facing deportation over to immigration authorities automatically.

"My intention is to say 'It is the law and we have to enforce it,'" Kearney said of why he signed the letter.

Katie McGinty is challenging incumbent Pat Toomey for the U.S. Senate seat.

The group is made up of district attorneys and sheriffs from counties across the state.

McGinty's campaign responded to Toomey's press conference in a statement, calling it misleading.

“Senator Toomey has absolutely no moral authority on this issue. No one thinks sanctuary cities are the solution, but it’s the result of the immigration crisis Senator Toomey made worse. Instead of trying to help Philadelphia solve this problem, he opposed comprehensive immigration reform ..." the statement said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ggrossyd.