Home > Statement by Mayor William Peduto on Immigration Policies

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Mayor, Public Safety Director and Chief of Police commit to alleviating fear and anxiety among all those living in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, PA (March 21, 2017) – Mayor William Peduto issued the following statement today regarding Pittsburgh’s status as a welcoming and inclusive city:

With what appears to be an increasing emphasis on immigration efforts by the new presidential administration and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency, now seems an appropriate and necessary time to reaffirm our City's values. From Deutschtown to Polish Hill, from Manchester to Squirrel Hill, from Beechview to the historic Hill District, Pittsburgh has been, is, and always will be, a welcoming and diverse city where we prioritize smart policing while respecting the safety and security of our individual citizens. 

Pittsburgh is a city of immigrants, founded and built on diverse and accepting cultures, the home of the labor movement and the steel industry, where we embrace the melting pot of people, ideas, and cultures that have set the standard for what a most livable city should look like in America today. 

Respect for our people and for how they have infused their cultures into our city means that while we respect the laws and policies of the federal government, we do not inflict unjust policies and undue fear or injury upon our citizens and visitors.  The increased and enhanced immigration enforcement policies we are now seeing across the country appear to be neither about public safety nor about smart policing, and violate Constitutional rights to equal protection for all, and protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

If the latest enforcement policies were indeed about preserving public safety, we would be using our precious resources to pursue criminals who are a threat to our community, not pursuing parents with young children, sowing distrust and discord.

We already do this in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police adopted an "Unbiased Policing" policy in 2014 that commits the bureau to work with all federal agencies, including ICE, to arrest all those with legitimate criminal warrants. At the same time the policy bars police from asking our residents about their immigration status, in an effort to build trust within our communities.

Some of our immigrant families are afraid to send their children to school, often are fearful to even attend jobs that they need, and fearful of aggressive and abrupt apprehension, making them worried about the futures of their US-born citizen children. The efforts to criminalize communities and deport millions of people could affect everyone from undocumented immigrants to local police to U.S. soldiers and their families. This is not the environment that reflects or defines Pittsburgh.

Our administration is committed to helping ensure our community members are safe and our values persist through these challenging times. Pittsburgh police will continue to serve the entire community without regard to an individual’s immigration status. We have one of the most highly-trained police bureaus in the country and we are fortunate to live in a city with a relatively low crime rate, in no small part due to the respectful and cooperative relationship between our citizens and our law enforcement personnel.

Our local police officers do not and will not act as federal immigration agents, or as members of a nationalized deportation army.

A main purpose for adopting welcoming-type policies is to comply with constitutional requirements and to protect public safety. Immigrants and refugees are welcome here and we will do everything within our power to protect them and all our residents.

My office is working with Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich and Chief of Police Scott Schubert to enhance our efforts on community policing strategies to ensure that law enforcement officials know their communities and that every member of their community feels safe to request Public Safety services.

“Whether you need police, fire or emergency medical services, we want all individuals to feel safe and not hesitate when calling 9-1-1 for assistance,” Director Hissrich has said.

“The Police Bureau values its relationship with the multicultural community. We will continue to enhance our partnerships with community members to alleviate fears and anxiety. Whether you are a victim or witness of a crime, Pittsburgh police are here to help you if you need assistance. We are committed to treating everyone with dignity and respect,” says Chief Schubert.

Pittsburgh is a welcoming community. Some of us are life-long or long-time residents while others arrived to our community more recently and in different ways. But we are all neighbors now with the responsibility to respect and support one another.  Pittsburgh will continue to embrace long-time residents and newcomers alike.

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