LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A Lancaster City organization is pushing to introduce legislation that would prevent police from asking about immigration status.
While the city has had a policy in place since 2018, activists want it codified into law.
People gathered outside of Lancaster City Hall to call for the council to pass legislation intended to build trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement.
“Although Lancaster is a welcoming city, and they’ve done some great things, there is still a lot of work to be done. A lot of gaps that exist,” said CASA Pennsylvania, an immigrant advocacy organization, Director Daniel Alvalle.
Around 40 CASA members – an organization that advocates for immigrants – gathered to push a potential ordinance called the Lancaster Trust Act.
“One of the things that the trust act does is it eliminates any collaboration between Lancaster City law enforcement administration and ICE,” Alvalle said.
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Some people shared personal stories of family members who have been detained, like Guadalupe Almanza, who has been fighting her son Jorge’s deportation after a run-in with the police.
“You can never imagine going through this until you live it. It’s a very traumatic experience. [translated],” said Almanza.
Council Member Janet Diaz says Lancaster needs changes, adding this is a first step:
“No one should live in fear, nor be victims of heinous crimes because of their immigrant status,” she said.
Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace addressed concerns at Tuesday night’s meeting, saying the city already has a policy in place. The police department does not work with ICE, but these activists say they want to codify it into the law.
“It also, as it has shown in other states, it helps instill confidence in the community that they can reach out to law enforcement,” Alvalle added.
Lancaster City Council passed a motion to revisit this later in the month. One council member said it needed to be more focused on Lancaster.