Officials from Pennsylvania’s biggest cities respond to Trump Executive Orders, Philadelphia visit

Officials from Pennsylvania’s biggest cities respond to Trump Executive Orders, Philadelphia visit

Author: Jason Gottesman/Thursday, January 26, 2017/Categories: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia

As President Donald Trump makes his first visit to Pennsylvania since officially taking the reins as the nation’s top executive Thursday, lawmakers from both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are responding to the visit and recent actions by the President on immigration.


Starting with Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney penned an open letter to the city entitled “How We Thrive.”


The letter explains that the city “faces an important test” as it hosts President Trump and top Republican leaders from across the country for a GOP retreat.


"We must show that progressive policies create a stronger and safer city," he wrote. "They are not 'burdensome regulations,' but instead tools that allowed our crime rate to plummet to a forty-year low and put Philadelphia at the top of the list of millennial growth and travel destinations."


He added that the city is “strong because it embraces its diversity” and pointed city residents to a number of resources from the city’s Office of the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for how Philadelphians can promote diversity during the visit and beyond.


"By channeling our feelings into productive actions, we will build bridges and strengthen our communities," he said. "We are the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. Let’s show them how it’s done."


During the Republican retreat, a number of protests and demonstrations are planned throughout the city.


Taking a more immediate policy tone, City Council President Darrell Clarke called for hearings to reassess the city’s budget and policies in the wake of recent Trump executive orders paving the way for the federal government to punish so-called sanctuary cities like Philadelphia and to start peeling back provisions of the Affordable Care Act.


He also noted similar decisions at the state level that could impact city finances, necessitating a deeper dive into the potential impact.


"In order to maintain solid fiscal footing and preserve essential city services, we must reexamine the City’s revenues, expenditures, and policy priorities to prepare for the worst," he said.


According to Clarke’s office, upon consent of Council the Committee on Fiscal Stability and Intergovernmental Cooperation will begin to examine the potential impact on the recent federal actions, as well as the looming state budget deficit on Philadelphia’s bottom line.


“This is the most unpredictable and ominous climate for the City of Philadelphia I have seen in my 17 years in office. Threats to dismantle the safety net, making people sicker and more susceptible to poverty, are coming from Washington and Harrisburg along with proposals to limit elected officials’ authority to protect citizens with legislation, such as a standing law that expanded earned paid sick leave for workers," he said.


"As many of us have learned the hard way, voting is not enough. Marching is not enough. Philadelphia City Council will do everything within our authority -- and test the limits of our authority if we must -- in order to protect all who live, work, and visit here.”


In Pittsburgh, where on the same day the President signed the sanctuary cities Executive Order and announced a reduction in visas from some Middle Eastern countries, city council gave preliminary approval to legislation that would make the city more immigrant and refugee friendly. Mayor Bill Peduto said both the city’s and country’s futures will be built by immigrants.


"Let's be clear: the President's executive order will not make us safer. It will not advance the principles upon which our nation and our cities were founded. It will further divide us as a city and as a nation," he said.


"Pittsburgh joins tonight with other cities across the country and we stand ready to fight this unprecedented and this unconstitutional act. We will resist, with all powers at our disposal, any attempt to commandeer our local law enforcement officers into a national deportation army."


He added it will be the policy of the city to show people compassion and respect "regardless of who they are, where they're from, who they love or how they found their way to our beloved city."


The meeting of top Republican officials, slated to include addresses from former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning and British Prime Minister Theresa May, is set to wrap up Friday.