Peduto: Sending immigrant detainees to Pittsburgh not a punishment |

Peduto: Sending immigrant detainees to Pittsburgh not a punishment

Bob Bauder
Mayor Bill Peduto speaks at a press conference announcing a package of gun safety measures that will be introduced to Pittsburgh City Council Tuesday at the City-County Building on Dec. 14, 2018.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said Friday he would welcome detainees and speculated that the city could have found homes for several hundred if the Trump administration had decided to send some to Pittsburgh.

Peduto, who has been clear that his administration will welcome immigrants to the city, made the comments after The Washington Post broke a story about a White House proposal to send immigrant detainees to sanctuary cities to retaliate against President Donald Trump’s political foes.

The proposal never moved forward, The Post reported.

“I don’t think there’s really any mayor around the country who supports sanctuary cities that would view that as punishment,” Peduto said. “It would actually be something that we would roll our sleeves up and be able to accommodate them.”

Pittsburgh is not labeled as a sanctuary city, but Peduto supports the concept. He said Pittsburgh police do not actively seek out illegal immigrants and won’t detain them on those charges alone. He said Pittsburgh has worked for years to bring new immigrants to the city.

“We could easily with the organizations that are on the ground, the nonprofits, we could easily be able to take several hundred new American families and be able to find them places to start their new lives,” Peduto said. “We’ve said that we are a welcoming city, and we work to prove that and work with the agencies that are helping to create new American families.”

The mayor previously set a goal of bringing 20,000 new residents to the city through a new economic base made up of high tech firms, educational institutional and hospitals. He’s said immigrants could help fulfill that goal.

The Post’s report does not mention Pittsburgh as a possible destination for the detainees. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco was among those the White House wanted to target, according to the report. The administration also considered releasing detainees in other Democratic strongholds.

White House officials first broached the plan in a Nov. 16 email, asking officials at several agencies whether members of the caravan could be arrested at the border and then bused “to small- and mid-sized sanctuary cities,” places where local authorities have refused to hand over illegal immigrants for deportation.

After the White House pressed again in February, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s legal department rejected the idea as inappropriate and rebuffed the administration.

A White House official and a spokesman for the the Department of Homeland Security sent nearly identical statements to The Post on Thursday, indicating that the proposal is no longer under consideration.

“This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion,” the White House statement said.

The Washington Post contributed to this report.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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