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Mayors Urge Support for Dreamers

POSTED: September 06, 2017, 7:00 am

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With a sense of urgency, the nation’s mayors immediately reacted to the announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that President Trump had decided to end the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program instituted by the Obama administration to protect undocumented immigrants, so-called ‘Dreamers,’ who came to the country as children. The tension between the White House and some of the nation’s mayors had been building for months as cities declared they would not aid in the expulsion of undocumented immigrants, and some even declared they would act as “sanctuary cities.”

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, representing the mayors of 1,400 cities with populations of 30,000 or more, sent an open letter to Congress urging quick bipartisan legislation to enable Dreamers to stay in the country and ultimately gain American citizenship. The president has given Congress six months to come up with a ‘fix.’ For the mayors of large metropolises like New York City, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles there is a lot at stake. With large populations of undocumented immigrants, who have been employed and have families, the impact would be devastating from a personal perspective but also in the sense of how it would undermine the civic climate of these communities. Some of the nation’s business leaders have also expressed their opposition to the termination of DACA, citing the impact the loss of the program would have on their workforces as well as the economy in general.

There are some 800,000 individuals participating in the DACA program. The announcement by President Trump that he was ending the program drew a strong rebuke from former President Barack Obama, who up until this moment had resisted commenting publicly on the Trump administration’s policies. Obama called the move by Trump “self-defeating” and “cruel,” and the tone of his comments suggest he might play a very visible role in trying to save one of his signature initiatives. Trump’s actions come less than a week after his controversial pardon of disgraced Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the poster boy for racial profiling people of color under the guise of fighting illegal immigration.

Reactions from mayors was swift and united in their opposition to President Trump’s decision.

U.S. Conference of Mayors President and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu:

"This is not only deeply flawed public policy, but a morally deficient decision that instills fear, tears apart our communities, and is contrary to the fabric of what makes this country great. These are young people in our public schools, in our colleges, embedded in our work force, and living in our neighborhoods. By no choice of their own, they came to this great nation and know of no other home. While they may not have had the blessing to be born in the United State of America, they are as much a part of this great country as my own children and it's a shame that the president and his policy making don't recognize that.”

U.S. Conference of Mayors Latino Alliance Chair and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti:

“Today’s decision is a giant setback for America, because all of our children should feel safe and accepted in a country that belongs to them. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has allowed close to 800,000 ambitious, patriotic young people to start careers, stay in school, and give back to our communities without fear of being torn from the people they love.

President Trump’s action on DACA is cruel — it threatens to tear families apart, puts our economy at risk, and will do nothing to unify America or make us more secure. The President should open his heart to the scores of families anguished by his decision, and reverse a course where he is so plainly on the wrong side of history and justice. I urge Congress to act as quickly as possible to pass legislation to protect the beneficiaries of DACA, giving millions of our relatives, friends, and neighbors the security and peace of mind that they deserve. DACA recipients are all of us: teachers, students, business owners, young people thinking about starting families of their own in the only country they know: the United States. They belong here. And we’ll fight for them to stay.”

U.S. Conference of Mayors Immigration Reform Task Force Co Chair and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza:

"The elimination of DACA would be a direct attack on the American Dream for 800,000 young people. DREAMers are Americans in virtually every way and it is deeply disheartening that they now face additional anxiety and uncertainty. Congress has the ability to bring hope back to DREAMers and we urge them to come together in a bipartisan way. We have 6 months to get the job done, let's get to work."

U.S. Conference of Mayors Immigration Reform Task Force Co Chair and Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait:

“When it comes to immigration, there’s one thing nearly all of us can agree on: The system is broken and in need of comprehensive reform. Regardless of how it came about, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is not the real issue. Deporting young people who have been allowed to be a part of our communities would be wrong. But we as mayors do not have the power to pass legislation that would extend or refine DACA. We urge Congress to act to continue this vital program as the first step toward fixing our nation’s broken immigration system.”

U.S. Conference of Mayors Trustee and Mesa Mayor John Giles:

"DACA is an opportunity for individuals to pursue their dreams and contribute to this country. Dreamers attend our colleges, start businesses, buy homes, raise families and make the most of their opportunities. With DACA, individuals are able to get better paying jobs and contribute more to our tax base, and work in the fields that they studied. They are well-integrated into American society and are living proof of the American dream."

U.S. Conference CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran:

“The Conference of Mayors has had strong policy supporting DACA since the program began and has been working hard for some time to protect Dreamers. At the Conference's Annual Meeting this June, the nation’s mayors passed a resolution to support extension of the DACA program and permanent legal status for DREAMERs. In July, USCM President, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, sent a letter to President Trump urging him to continue the program, and Mayor Landrieu and the mayors leading our immigration efforts sent a letter to Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and Dick Durbin (IL) registering the Conference's strong support for the Dream Act. Just last week the Conference organized a Mayors' National Day of Action in which at least 66 Mayors in 29 States and District of Columbia spoke out in support of DACA.”

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