The Pennsylvania state legislature has considered two bills since President Donald Trump began his administration: one that from the state Senate that proposes to strip funding from sanctuary cities in the state, and another from the House that would do the same to colleges calling themselves “sanctuary campuses.”
This has left university and city officials unsure the future of funding for Temple and Philadelphia.
The exact amount of funding that would be taken away is unclear, said Miriam Enriquez, the director of Philadelphia’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
“We are sort of in a waiting game right now,” Enriquez said. “[We’re] waiting to see what directives come down, to see how the [Pa. Senate bill] develops and weighing what our options would be.”
George Kenney, senior adviser for government affairs at Temple, wrote in an email, “This remains a very fluid situation. We will continue to monitor it to determine what impact, if any, will be felt by Temple.”
Jennifer Lee, an assistant clinical professor at the Beasley School of Law, said there could be an issue with state funding if Temple decides to become a sanctuary campus.
The university is state-related and receives state funding every fiscal year. In July, the university received a 2.5 percent increase in state funding, but Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal for the 2017-2018 fiscal year had no increase in state funding for the university.
The Temple News reported in December that 900 students, staff and faculty signed a petition for the university to become a sanctuary campus, which was sent to President Richard Englert and Provost Joanne Epps.
State Rep. Jerry Knowles, a Republican from the Reading/Wilkes-Barre area, introduced legislation that would stop state funding for campuses that do not comply with federal immigration laws.
“Turning a blind eye to illegal conduct for the sake of making some kind of political statement on this nation’s immigration policy endangers the lives of those that the institution should be protecting,” Knowles wrote in the proposed bill.
The University of Pennsylvania and Swarthmore College announced that their campuses would become sanctuary campuses in December.
“If Temple were to have those policies, then they would have funding pulled [if the legislation were to pass], which would be quite devastating to Temple,” Lee said.
Enriquez said city officials are evaluating their options if the state Senate bill passes through state congress, or if they receive a directive from the president’s executive order.
Lee said Trump’s executive order to cut federal funding to sanctuary cities will lead to “long legal battles” because of the constitutionality of the order, but it will not be the same at the state level.
“It looks like it might be permissible for states to yank funding,” Lee said. “So, the question is, what sort of impact that is going to have? A lot of resources come to municipalities from the state.”
Enriquez said funding from the state helps run anything “from law enforcement funding, bicycle and pedestrian safety to HIV prevention and parks and recreation.”
“Cutting any of that funding would affect every Pennsylvanian and Philadelphian,” she added.
Kelly Brennan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @_kellybrennan.