More officials slam Lancaster’s designation as a “Welcoming City” and decision to end cooperation with ICE

04 March 2024- Following the announcement of Lancaster City officially becoming a designated “Welcoming City,” state Rep. Dave Zimmerman (R-Lancaster) offered the following statement:

“Instances of illegal immigrants committing crimes continue to make headlines, along with a flagging economy that is putting a huge strain on American families. Yet, Lancaster City is celebrating its decision to become an official “Welcoming City” – thereby inviting illegal immigrants to relocate to the county. 

“This decision – at its core – is putting the interests of foreign, illegal immigrants over the interests of long-time citizens. We are a welcoming nation to legal immigrants who follow the law, but we cannot welcome illegal immigrants whose first act in our country is to defy the law.

“Welcoming cities invite illegal immigrants with no intention of ever deporting them and they dedicate our tax dollars to providing services to them. Furthermore, welcoming cities are ripe for human traffickers to prey on what they know will be a large population of vulnerable individuals. 

“This is a dangerous practice that puts a further strain on local taxpayers and invites a growing criminal element – whether from the illegal immigrants themselves or from traffickers. 

“It is appalling to me that Lancaster City would openly celebrate such a decision. As public officials, our first responsibility is to protect public safety. I for one, respect the job our law enforcement officers perform on a daily basis and would never tie their hands in what they need to do to protect the public. 

“We are seeing the strain illegal border crossings and the influx of illegal immigrants is having on other cities across the country. Education, housing, health care and other government services are just a few ways in which illegal immigrants are putting huge pressure on an already strained economy. 

“Why would Lancaster City think trying to attract these people is a good idea? Do their residents want higher taxes? Is Lancaster City flush with taxpayer-paid-for resources and services that no one is currently using? Are local school districts asking for additional students? Do we have an excess of housing where these people can stay? These are the questions no one seems to be answering. 

“Although I do not represent Lancaster City, we would be fools to think these problems will only exist within city borders. The strain on resources and other problems will prevail across the entire county. 

“I strongly denounce this decision.” 

This decision has caused rifts even locally as Attorney Clint Barkdoll pointed out recently on News Talk 1037FM’s First News, “Even ICE issued a statement saying that sanctuary jurisdictions are inherently less safe. Clearly that’s the situation. This is a little surprising from Lancaster. It was a unanimous vote of the city council. The policy has been in place for about five years. They have simply now formalized it, but many times, again as ICE is pointing out, once these policies are formally codified, it’s even a bigger welcome sign to people that want to land there, knowing that local law enforcement will not cooperate in turning them over to federal authorities if something happens. It’s a really weird situation.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM added, “You would think they’d be removing it, but you know what? A very radical group, CASA, has been very instrumental in getting the ordinance. Why are we letting groups of activists dictate what these ordinances are? We did the same thing with LGBTQ in Chambersburg. No. The people should be the ones actually debating this and having dialogue. We see the results of letting people out, the murdered student. He wasn’t a violent criminal before that, but because ICE wasn’t able to detain him for his shoplifting and his other (crimes). Although they say I don’t know what he did to a child, I forgot about that. But still, you cannot judge what the later crimes are going to be and the first crime of crossing illegally, which they have recorded for him, that didn’t get him. ICE couldn’t get him and now this Lancaster little city is saying ICE cannot detain and deport and that’s here in Pennsylvania, so that doesn’t stay within their confines. That means all these people are going to be people we’re all exposed to.” 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “This is what you vote for and you get involved or get used to it.”