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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney

Mayor Jim Kenney and representatives for the Vera Institute announced a plan that will provide attorneys to illegal immigrants in the city who are facing deportation.

Reading mayor cancels flag ceremony

READING — The mayor of Reading called off a scheduled ceremony to raise the LGBTQ rainbow flag over City Hall for the first time, calling it a political symbol.

Acting Managing Director Osmer Deming said Mayor Wally Scott believes the “pride flag” represents a political movement and flying it is against city policy.

Council president Jeffrey Waltman Sr. said he found out just before arriving for the ceremony Monday evening and tried unsuccessfully to change the mayor’s mind. The LGBT Center of Greater Reading blasted the decision, saying “what was supposed to be a proud and historical moment” became “blatant, unacceptable discrimination.”

The Reading Eagle reports that a POW/MIA flag flies below the U.S. flag at City Hall and flags of other countries have been raised there.

Philly to offer lawyers to immigrants

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PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia is joining forces with a New York-based nonprofit to provide lawyers for immigrants facing deportation.

Mayor Jim Kenney and representatives for the Vera Institute announced the plan on Tuesday. The Vera Institute says its program for immigrants in the country illegally functions much like the public defender model in criminal court. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Kenney says the program would help Philadelphia “remain a place where everyone, including immigrants, feels safe and welcome.”

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In immigration court, defendants generally don’t have the right to court-appointed counsel.

Philadelphia, which is a sanctuary city, has committed to pay $100,000 to support the program, which will be matched by Vera.

About 11 million immigrants are living in the U.S. illegally, with about 50,000 in Philadelphia.

Vera says about 18 cities and counties across the U.S. are part of the program.

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