Toomey pushes end to sanctuary city policy

Seeking change: U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey called Philadelphia’s sanctuary city policy “extreme,” “misguided” and “terrible.” TIMES FILE PHOTO

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey held a conference call with reporters last week to again call on Philadelphia to end its sanctuary city policy, now that an illegal immigrant named Ramon Aguirre-Ochoa has been charged with raping a child.

Aguirre-Ochoa, a 45-year-old Honduran national, reentered the U.S. after being deported in 2009.

In 2015, he was in custody in Philadelphia, and the Department of Homeland Security asked the city to hold him so he could be deported again. Philadelphia does not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, and Aguirre-Ochoa was released. He was arrested on July 26 for rape.

“Ochoa was released right onto the streets of Philadelphia,” Toomey said.

Toomey called Philadelphia’s policy “extreme,” “misguided” and “terrible.”

“It’s so maddening at so many levels,” he said.

Toomey has introduced the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary City Policies Act, which would withhold certain federal funds from sanctuary cities.

Toomey’s bill was supported by a vote of 53–44, but needed 60 votes to beat a Democratic filibuster. Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr. voted against the bill. Two Democrats voted for it. One Republican opposed it.

Toomey pointed out that former Mayor Michael Nutter, former Mayor and Gov. Ed Rendell and the Obama administration oppose Philadelphia’s policy.

Diane Moyer, former legal director for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, also appeared on the conference call. She said Aguirre-Ochoa should not have been in the country at the time of the rape.

“It could have been prevented,” she said.

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Meanwhile, Republican attorney general nominee John Rafferty restated his strong opposition to Philadelphia’s sanctuary city policy in light of the rape allegedly committed by Aguirre-Ochoa.

“This report confirms that Mayor Kenney’s sanctuary city policy is dangerous and puts the lives of innocent families living, working and visiting the city every day at risk,” Rafferty said. “The city of Philadelphia chose not to turn a dangerous predator over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation, and that resulted in the rape of a child. It is time to hold people accountable for this failure to protect its citizens, particularly our children. This policy is putting people’s safety and lives at danger.”

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State Rep. Jason Dawkins and Pennsylvania House hopefuls Joe Hohenstein and Jared Solomon spoke last week at the official grand opening of a Hillary Clinton campaign office at 4426 Frankford Ave.

Hohenstein, who is challenging Rep. John Taylor, also has office space on site.

Dawkins blasted Donald Trump.

“He has brought out the worst in people,” he said.

Dawkins called for high voter turnout to elect Clinton.

“We have to wake up. If we stay asleep, we’ll get exactly what we deserve,” he said.

Solomon, who is running unopposed after knocking out Rep. Mark Cohen in the primary, credited Clinton with laying the groundwork for what became the Affordable Care Act.

“She gets things done,” he said.

Hohenstein, an immigration lawyer, condemned what he said were “hateful” and “divisive” comments by Trump. He said Taylor is wrong to be backing the billionaire businessman.

“I stand with Hillary Clinton. I’m with her,” he said.

In his race, Hohenstein is calling for abolition of the School Reform Commission. Saying the legislature treats Philadelphia like a stepchild, he wants more funding for public education. He also plans to bring up Taylor’s 2005 middle-of-the-night vote for a pay raise.

Hohenstein sees big Democratic gains this year.

“Come Nov. 8, I’m going to be the happiest man in Philadelphia when we’ve all won,” he said.

Also speaking was a Bridesburg resident and Planned Parenthood volunteer named Kathleen Grum.

She recalled, five years ago, going for an ultrasound when she was more than 21 weeks pregnant. The test showed the baby’s kidneys and bladder were not developing, the lungs were not maturing and the child would have suffocated at birth.

Grum had an abortion eight days later.

Grum opposes H.B. 1948, a state bill that would ban abor-tions after 20 weeks of preg-nancy and end so-called “dis-mem-ber-ment abor-tions.”

“This election for me really hits home,” she said.

The bill has an ex-ception for med-ic-al emer-gen-cies, so it’s not clear if Grum would have been required to continue the pregnancy.

Taylor voted for the bill, which easily passed the House. Dawkins was among those who opposed it, and Planned Parenthood has endorsed Hohenstein and Solomon.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has also passed the measure. Even if the bill passes the full Sen-ate, Gov. Tom Wolf has said he will veto it.

Grum criticized Trump for wanting to overturn the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

“This is why it’s important that we vote the Democratic ticket all the way down the line,” she said.

On Sunday, U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina stopped by the office to promote a voter-registration drive.

On Saturday, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten appeared at Clinton’s office at 8568 Bustleton Ave.

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The Clinton campaign last week launched Pennsylvania Women for Hillary.

Among the members are U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty and City Councilwomen Cherelle Parker, Helen Gym and Blondell Reynolds Brown.

“There’s no comparison between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on issues important to women and working families,” McGinty said. “The Republican nominee has lived a life devoted only to himself and his fool’s-gold brand, stepping on and denigrating women along the way. If you wanted to find the polar opposite of Trump’s twisted values, it’s Hillary. She’s spent every ounce of her God-given potential fighting to elevate the status quo for women in this nation and across the world, and that’s what she’ll do as president. The stakes in this election can not be overstated because the contrast is so clear. As the mother of three young women, I’m proud to say I’m with her.”

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Two candidate forums have been set for October.

The Bakers Bay Civic Association will host a forum on Thursday, Oct. 20, at 7:30 p.m. The Bakers Bay condominiums are at 5100 Convent Lane in East Torresdale.

The Congregations of Shaare Shamayim, 9768 Verree Road in Bustleton, will host its annual forum on Sunday, Oct. 23, at 10 a.m. Brunch will be served.

To RSVP for one or both forums, call Ruth Horwitz at 215–913–1991. ••