Melissa Murray Bailey, the Republican nominee for mayor of Philadelphia, was running a low-key campaign in a sleepy race.

That all changed two weeks ago when Bailey began staking out positions on issues, including some with a national profile.

Drawing national attention could help Bailey's campaign, which as of last month had raised less than $10,000, in the race against Democratic nominee Jim Kenney, who had more than 12 times that much campaign cash in the bank as of June 8.

Bailey, in one of her campaign's first official statements, said she would not continue Philadelphia's status as a so-called Sanctuary City if she won.

"Providing a safe harbor in Philadelphia for illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes is the wrong choice," Bailey said. "By allowing illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes to stay in our city we are proclaiming, 'Come to Philadelphia, because even if you are in the country illegally and committing crimes, there is a place for you here.' "

As a slogan, that won't fit on a bumper sticker.

As a statement of fact, it, too, has problems.

Bailey knocks Mayor Nutter's April 2014 executive order, barring the city from detaining for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency anyone "who otherwise would be released from custody" pending trial or after serving a jail sentence - unless the person were convicted of a first- or second-degree felony involving violence.

Bailey lands hard on violent crime while rejecting a policy that does not apply to violent criminals.

Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald, in response, said the city would hold someone accused of or convicted of a crime if ICE got a judicial order.

"We're not depriving someone of their liberty simply based on a call from ICE," McDonald said. "As a practical matter, ICE has not asked the city to detain anyone in the last year."

Bailey seized on the July 1 murder in San Francisco of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle, who had been walking with her father when she was allegedly shot by a Mexican citizen with a lengthy criminal record.

Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who had been deported five times, was released from federal prison after finishing a term for once again illegally entering the country. He was then transferred to San Francisco's jail on a 20-year-old drug charge that was soon dismissed.

That city did not honor an ICE request for notification if Lopez-Sanchez was released from custody.

Horror ensued, followed by headlines and then political grandstanding.

Asked for a Philadelphia example of Sanctuary City policy going terribly wrong, Bailey cites Milton Mateo Garcia, a Philadelphia restaurant kitchen worker from Honduras.

Garcia entered this country illegally and was deported in mid-2013. He reentered this country - again illegally, ICE says - and was charged in June 2014 with raping a doctor in her Rittenhouse Square apartment.

This example is a bad fit for Bailey's argument.

ICE asked Philadelphia to detain Garcia after he was arrested in connection with that violent crime. The city hadn't released Garcia, who is listed for trial on Nov. 9.

Bailey's stance was met with push-back from Kenney and United Voices for Philadelphia, a multiethnic group that advocates on immigration issues.

"We object to your highlighting a few incidents where an undocumented person has committed a crime to be used to vilify all undocumented people," the group told Bailey. "We believe that, in essence, what that vilification does is generally label all documented and undocumented people as criminals."

Kenney, while on City Council, pushed for the city to stop cooperating with ICE on detentions and supports Nutter's executive order. He has said it builds trust to allow those people to feel safe reporting crimes to police.

Bailey says her critics have it wrong, that she supports immigration reform that has been stymied in Congress.

But that first requires a conversation on immigration, Bailey said.

"Think of all the sanctuary cities," she said. "Instead of working around the rules and coming together to put pressure on Washington, we might get something done."

215-854-5973@ByChrisBrennan