Pittsburgh fights for sanctuary for immigrants

Supporters of a sanctuary city in Pittsburgh outside city council chambers. Photo: FURIA

As a result of a concerted organizing effort, the Pittsburgh Sanctuary City Coalition, of which the ANSWER Coalition is a member, won a city council hearing on the issue of declaring Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a sanctuary city, with the additional codified protections for immigrants that brings. The showing and support at the July 12 hearing was tremendous, packing the room to the walls as speaker after speaker stepped up to offer testimony and support for establishing greater protections for immigrants in Pittsburgh.

Despite what some city politicians may claim, Pittsburgh is not a sanctuary city, even in the limited sense that some other major cities describe themselves. But a determined, grassroots struggle can change that. The city council hearing was preceded by a petitioning drive organized by the Sanctuary City Coalition that gathered 2,500 signatures. 

Dozens from the diverse crowd signed up and spoke on the hardships faced by immigrants, especially those who are undocumented. Families live in constant fear of ICE raids and having their family members detained and sent away. Simple things like shopping, sending the kids to school or any other commonplace public functions becomes a risk.

The hypocrisy of the U.S. government is extreme. It carries out wars around the world and imposes economic suffering through free trade agreements and other measures. And then, when people flee those conditions, it has the nerve to criminalize them!

For these reasons the Sanctuary City Coalition came together to demand change in Pittsburgh. The creation of a sanctuary city will provide a measure of immediate relief in the face of the extreme hostility of the Trump administration. The city council meeting won by the coalition was an important step towards this goal. 

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