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Mayor Kenney says Trump has 'no compassion' for immigrants

The Trump administration says tens of thousands of Haitians must leave voluntarily or face deportation.

Mayor James Kenney, seen here at a news conference earlier this month.
Mayor James Kenney, seen here at a news conference earlier this month.Read moreJESSICA GRIFFIN

A frustrated Mayor Kenney struck at President Trump Wednesday, questioning his upbringing and saying he had "no compassion" for immigrants in the United States.

"I don't know where he was raised, but his family didn't do a good job raising that guy," the mayor said.

The City Hall news conference was called so the mayor, council members, clergy and advocate groups could implore the Trump administration to reverse its decisions to end Temporary Protected Status for Haitian migrants and the DACA program that allows young people who were illegally brought here as children to stay in the United States.

Kenney was reading from prepared remarks, reaching a point where he noted that on Monday the president had told Haitians to get out, then appeared to depart from the text, saying, "He should get out, actually."

For the Trump administration to remove TPS protections that enable hardworking immigrants to contribute to the city and the country is "simply un-American," the mayor said.

"Could you imagine if they ended TPS for the Irish when we came here in the 1800s? Sent us all back home to starve?"

The U.S was a country of caring and compassion, the mayor went on, but it's "now a country of anger and divisiveness, and Donald Trump has gotten us where we are. … There is no compassion whatsoever in the White House."

Kenney said he was "beside himself with sadness" over the impending, forced exit of thousands of migrant peoples who seek a better life for themselves and their families.

He has criticized the president before, and fought him in court — and won — over the administration's attempt to withhold federal law-enforcement grants from so-called sanctuary cities.

Nationally, TPS allows about 320,000 immigrants from 10 countries to live and work here because of war, floods, droughts, or epidemics in their homelands. The status, enacted by Congress in 1990, was never meant to be permanent. The law empowers the White House to designate a country's citizens for temporary protection — and to determine when that nation has recovered sufficiently for its citizens to return.

On Monday, the Trump administration declared an end to TPS for Haitians, who must leave the United States by July 2019 or face deportation. On Wednesday at City Hall, speaker after speaker described how Haiti remains a broken country, wracked by unemployment. They pledged to fight to restore TPS for Haitians and other foreign nationals.

The city's Haitian community numbers about 7,500 people, with more spread across suburbs from Elkins Park to Langhorne. An estimated 600,000 Haitians live in the United States, half of them citizens through naturalization. About 50,000 are here under TPS, granted after the 2010 earthquake that destroyed much of the capital city of Port-au-Prince and killed an estimated 230,000 people.