The City of Philadelphia does not like the term sanctuary city. The city’s liberal leaders prefer the term “Welcoming City.” Unfortunately, the city’s “welcoming” policy welcomed an illegal immigrant who was also a child rapist.
On Feb. 26, William S. McSwain, the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, announced the sentencing of Juan Ramon-Vasquez, a Honduran citizen, to 21 months in federal prison for illegal re-entry into the United States. Ramon-Vasquez was deported in 2009, but like many illegal immigrants, he chose to sneak back to the United States again.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, he was discovered to be back in America by U.S. Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers while being held in a Philadelphia prison. The City of Philadelphia refused to comply to a detainer lodged by ICE and he was subsequently released from prison.
Instead of being in the custody of ICE and facing deportation once again, Ramon-Vasquez was free to roam around Philadelphia. He was also free to rape a young child.
He is currently serving eight to 20 years in state prison for rape and his federal sentence will run consecutive to his state sentence.
“The facts of this case illustrate all too well the direct threat to public safety caused by the City of Philadelphia’s sanctuary city policies,” Mr. McSwain said. “After the City let this criminal loose on the streets of Philadelphia, Ramon-Vasquez repeatedly raped an innocent child. If the ICE detainer had been honored by local law enforcement, this crime never would have happened, and the victim would have been spared horrendous physical and mental trauma.”
Simona L. Flores, the field office director ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Philadelphia, also spoke at the announcement. “Today’s sentencing was a testament to ICE and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s resolve to seek out, arrest, charge and remove dangerous criminals like Ramon-Vasquez who pose a serious threat to our community.”
“Criminals like Ramon-Vasquez take note: My Office will do everything in its power to find you, to protect our community, and to seek justice for your victims,” Mr. McSwain added. “Unlike the Philadelphia government, we are not on your side.”
According to the City of Philadelphia, immigrants are an asset to the city. The city government claims that the illegal immigrants are operating businesses and providing much needed labor. The city government also notes, with some pride, that more “undocumented” (read illegal) immigrants live in Philadelphia than in any of the Northeast American city, except New York City.
“There is no legal or uniform definition of what constitutes a “sanctuary city,” the city’s website states. “We do not use that term. We are a “Welcoming City.” We do not allow our City employees, including police officers, to ask about the documentation status of people they encounter. Research has shown, and most law enforcement leaders believe, that trust between officers and immigrant communities is essential to reducing crime and helping victims.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney made national headlines last June when he performed a “happy dance” in response to the news that federal Judge Michael Baylson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that President Trump could not cut off grants to Philadelphia over sanctuary polices. His staff posted the video to Twitter. The video shows a very happy mayor entering a room singing, “We are a sanctuary city.”
As Dave Boyer reported here in June, White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said it was “disgusting” for the mayor to laugh, dance and high-five an aide in celebration.
“Many people in Philadelphia have been killed, raped or assaulted at the hands of criminal illegal aliens,” the White House spokesman told Fox News.
In 2016, Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey announced his opposition to Mr. Kenney’s reinstatement of sanctuary policies. “The City of Philadelphia has unfortunately decided to defy both federal law and common sense at the expense of keeping Pennsylvanians safe,” Sen. Toomey said. “I strongly urge more Pennsylvania Democrats to call on Mayor Kenney to reconsider his decision to shield dangerous and violent criminals from federal authorities just because they are illegal immigrants.”
Although city officials claim that sanctuary city polices help local police officers with trust issues with illegal immigrant communities, several police officers in Philadelphia have told me that they don’t see it that way, and they don’t agree with the city policy.
“We have enough home-grown criminals here,” one disgruntled cop said. “We don’t need to welcome illegal immigrant criminals with open arms and legal protection.”
• Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime, espionage and terrorism.