Philadelphia’s Status as a Sanctuary City: What it Means


Philadelphia has been a Sanctuary City since 2016. This means it’s one of the safest places in the world to be while you try to work out your immigration issues and find a legal pathway to lawful permanent residency.

Here’s what that means: there’s no collaboration between the Philadelphia Police Department and Customs Enforcement. 

Local police officers don’t help ICE round up or arrest migrants. This may confuse you as ICE often wears plain jackets that say “Police” when making arrests, but they aren’t the Philadelphia PD.

They also won’t participate in “ICE Holds,” which were 48-hour holds of noncitizens who would have otherwise been released from police custody or jail. If ICE wants someone who is in the jail they must present a signed judicial warrant that will force the police to keep them. 

However, living in a sanctuary city does not mean you are 100% safe. ICE still does pull people over, even during the Biden era. They still knock on doors and they still pursue people they wish to deport. They’ve been known to engage in racial profiling as well. They’ve even been known to stop people on the streets.

Nevertheless you do have rights.

  • Don’t lie or give false documents to ICE, but recognize you do have the right to remain silent.
  • Assert that right. Say it out loud. “I am exercising my right to remain silent.”
  • If they ask your name you must give that, but that is the only information you must give.
  • Do not consent to a search. If ICE starts to search you say out loud that you do ot consent to a search.
  • Ask if you are free to leave. If they say yes say, “I do not wish to answer your questions.” If they say no, assert your right to remain silent and say you want a lawyer.

Do not speak at all until your immigration lawyer is with you. 

Knowing your rights does work both to prevent arrests and to help defend you against a deportation. Having a pre-chosen immigration attorney that you can call is a smart move as well.

If you or a loved one are facing deportation, contact Hykel Law today. Our experienced deportation defense firm can help, and we’re right here in a city who has welcomed immigrants from around the world.

See also:

What Are Your Options When You’re Undocumented?

7 Ways to Get a Green Card

What Are Your Rights if ICE Agents Are At Your Door?

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Although it often comes with controversy, immigration into the United States has always played a major role in the strength of its economy. Perhaps no one understands this more than the residents of Philadelphia, where the Liberty Bell still welcomes foreigners to one of the richest historical communities of our country.


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Not knowing or understanding the system and laws of the U.S. can be a disadvantage for many foreign immigrants who wish to obtain permanent residency in the United States, either for themselves or for their loved ones. Hykel Law’s Family-Based Immigration Services can lead you through the complicated process to achieve either temporary or permanent residency, depending on your situation.


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Are you afraid of deportation? If you are a foreign national involved in the beginning stages of removal proceedings, the deportation attorney at Hykel Law in Philadelphia can help prevent this unfortunate situation. We can evaluate your immigration case and find the best strategy to defend you from removal proceedings to help you stay in the United States.

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