Matthew said the peacemakers would be called the children of God, but Matthew never had to find middle ground between a mule-stubborn mayor and a rampaging federal agency.
Given our separation of church and state, I run the risk of a technical foul if I suggest that U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson became a child of God by suggesting a compromise to end the war between sanctuary city Philadelphia and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Baylson calls it a "paperwork dispute," but I think he underestimates the city's self-gratifying delusion of morality when it thwarts immigration law. Philly and ICE have been skirmishing for almost a decade.
The city is in court suing the Department of Justice for withholding a $1.5 million grant to the Police Department. The funds are being withheld, DOJ says, because the cops don't cooperate with ICE. The city says it cooperates enough.
Cooperation became an issue in 2010 when then-Mayor Michael Nutter overhauled a year of cooperation with ICE, during which the city had let the agency review arrest records. That July, Nutter changed the arrangement so that names of victims and witnesses were withheld, giving ICE only names of those charged with crimes. That offered protection to the innocent, and seemed fair.
But in 2014, under the constant harangue of the enablers of people here illegally, Nutter ended almost all cooperation with ICE, creating a sort of "no snitchin' " policy. That resulted in some convicted felons being released.
The report of Baylson's compromise request hit the news May 21. Right after that came a story that ICE had arrested 49 illegal immigrants in the Philadelphia area. Of that group, ICE says 17 had criminal convictions, 14 had pending criminal charges, six previously had been deported, and 14 were fugitives ordered removed by court order.
The city says it does not want to become an arm of federal law enforcement. ICE replies that it just wants the city to turn over those arrested for other infractions.
In 2016, the Obama administration chastised sanctuary cities. So has former Gov. Ed Rendell.
While Rendell was mayor, the only problem he had with immigrants was that "we weren't getting enough of them, both for their vitality and their work ethic," he tells me. The former district attorney was talking about legal immigrants, although the same is largely true for the undocumented.
Hardworking or not, they are breaking U.S. law and taking jobs that otherwise would be held by legal immigrants and lower-income Americans. This was a point made forcefully — not by President Trump, but by former President Bill Clinton in his 1995 State of the Union address, when he declared a crackdown on illegal aliens.
As mayor, Rendell was a problem-solver, more interested in solutions than in ideology.
I asked how he would resolve the current mess. I was a little surprised when he begged off a little, saying only that "there has to be a workable compromise to preserve the city's interests."
There is. The city could return to the 2010 policy of furnishing the names of those accused — or convicted — of crimes so they can be deported, or "repatriated," as I prefer to say.
Baylson says that if the two sides don't reach a compromise, he will draw a plan himself.