It’s another rainy one in Philly, continuing what’s been a wet week. I hope that doesn’t dampen anyone’s Valentine’s Day plans (or anti-Valentine’s Day plans). As far as the news is concerned, we have a story about fraudsters claiming to offer help to immigrants seeking citizenship, and another on what backers of former Vice President Joe Biden are thinking now; and my colleague caught up with new top cop Danielle Outlaw after her first few days on the job.
Ana Molina was a fixture in the Philadelphia region’s Spanish-speaking community. Her largely word-of-mouth, cash-only immigration services business had occupied a Northeast Philly storefront since 2001. Molina was born in Peru and became a U.S. citizen in 1987. She assured clients that as a lawyer, she could help them navigate intimidating immigration laws.
It turns out that Molina was not a lawyer. And she’d go on to steal thousands of dollars from unsuspecting immigrants.
With so many undocumented workers scared of being deported, their desperation to stay in the United States legally has fueled an already burgeoning industry of fraudulent immigration-services providers. Complaints in Pennsylvania skyrocketed last year, but even so, experts say crimes of this type are still grossly underreported.
Much of the state’s Democratic establishment has spent months lining up behind Scranton-born ex-VP Biden. But after the hometown favorite has stumbled in the first two contests of 2020, they’re confronting a new reality, my colleagues report. Some are holding firm with Biden, hoping that he can salvage his campaign in South Carolina. Others are deeply troubled about his campaign but remain unsure about other more moderate options, as well as former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has spent an unprecedented amount on ads in the Keystone State.
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Since taking over the department on Monday, people kept pointing out to Outlaw that her black nail polish technically violated the department’s instructions about appearance. So she changed the rule to allow for more stylish nails. And in one of her first interviews since becoming the first black woman to be Philly’s top cop, Outlaw told my colleague Chris Palmer that her rule change reflects the broader change she believes is needed in policing.
“It’s the small things that allow us to feel not only welcome, but supported,” she said. “It’s one thing to recruit me and say, ‘Oh, yes, we want you.’ But if there’s no support system in place to say, ‘Not only do [we] want you, but we celebrate you and we recognize that you bring [something] different’ ... we’re not going to get the people that we say that we want.”
The melding of eras is one of my favorite things about Philly. Thanks for capturing it, @tominphilly.
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“The responsibility for the safety of children in schools lays with Mayor Kenney. So far, Kenney has been mostly silent, letting [Superintendent William R.] Hite [Jr.] and the Board of Education be the face of the crisis. But both the superintendent and the school board members serve at the pleasure of the mayor.” — writes the Inquirer Editorial Board about shaking up the School District of Philadelphia and Board of Education because of the asbestos crisis.