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Philly mayor slams Trump over "false statements" on city murder rates

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney slammed President Donald Trump Thursday after Trump made a misleading claim that the city’s murder rate is “terribly increasing.”

Speaking Thursday at a gathering of Congressional Republicans at their annual policy retreat in Philadelphia, Trump said, “Here in Philadelphia murder has been steady— I mean— just terribly increasing.”

But according to statistics released by the Philadelphia Police Department, the murder rate in the city has steeply declined over the last 10 years, from 391 in 2007 to 277 in 2016.

It hit a low in 2013 at 246 and saw an increase to 280 in 2015, then declined slightly to 277 in 2016. But in previous decades the homicide totals nearly always exceeded 300, and reached 500 in 1990. The city’s population has remained relatively stable over that time.

It is true that the 27 homicides recorded for the month through Wednesday were the highest total for January since 2012. But a single month’s numbers can’t be used to predict how a year will end up.

Kenney said Trump’s statement amounted to “fake facts,” reports

“President Trump’s false statements today were an insult to the men and women of the Philadelphia police force—the very same men and women who are working long hours today to ensure his safety,” Kenny said in a statement. “Our police officers have worked tirelessly and with great personal sacrifice to get Philadelphia’s crime rate down to its lowest point in forty years, while also successfully implementing reforms to strengthen police-community relations and uphold the rights of all our residents.”

Kenney said he’s not satisfied with the current numbers, but said city officials are handicapped by what he called “Republican refusal to enact any kind of common sense gun control and by their obsession with turning our police officers into ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents, which will prevent immigrants from coming forward to report crimes or provide critical witnesses statements that can put dangerous criminals behind bars.”

A city spokeswoman says Philadelphia has no plans to change its immigration policy in response to Trump signing an executive order stripping federal funding for sanctuary cities.

Ajeenah Amir, a spokeswoman for Kenney, says “nothing about the city’s policy is changing.” She says that’s because Wednesday’s order is “simply a directive” and the administration hasn’t said what federal funding they could cut.

Kenney restored the city’s sanctuary status when he took office last year. It bars law enforcement cooperation between city police or prison officials and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Trump’s order to crack down on sanctuary cities could cost individual jurisdictions millions of dollars. But the administration may face legal challenges, given that some federal courts have found that local jurisdictions cannot hold immigrants beyond their jail term based only a request from immigration authorities.

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