FEATURED:

Bipartisan group of mayors asks for immigration reform

Bipartisan group of mayors asks for immigration reform
© Getty
The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) called on Congress Wednesday to move quickly on immigration reform and to immediately protect young immigrants from deportation.
 
"We see that the strength of our cities in America rests on making sure that we have pathways towards full participation and inclusion of all Americans," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at a press conference.
 
The USCM passed an emergency resolution touting the contributions of immigrants and asking for comprehensive immigration reform. The resolution was submitted by Mayors Garcetti; Tom Tait of Anaheim, Calif.; Jorge Elorza of Providence, R.I.; and Ed Murray of Seattle.
 
The mayors also called for the protection of "Dreamers" — undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children — to be a first priority under the incoming administration.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Garcetti said Dreamers' wages in Los Angeles had increased by 40 percent since President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaCampaign staffers sue Illinois Dem governor candidate over alleged racial discrimination Bipartisanship is a greater danger than political polarization GOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost MORE's Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was put in place to allow them to work legally, while wages for the rest of the population had gone up by one or two percent as a result.
 
"Study after study shows that when we push people into the shadows they work for less than a minimum wage, they compete unfairly with American workers and drive everyone’s wages down," said Garcetti. "Conversely, legal status means a more prosperous economy not just for them, but for all of us."
 
Murray, who served as chair of the Mayors and Chiefs of Police Task Force, focused on the need for separation of local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement duties.
 
"When it comes to violent criminals, every police department in America and all the mayors, our primary responsibility is to secure the streets. That’s different from asking mayors and police departments to become a deportation force on behalf of the federal government," he said.
 
In the resolution, the USCM said mayors would "continue to advocate for an inclusive agenda that supports the economic, social and civic participation and vitality of immigrant communities."
 
 
Trump proposed to reduce federal police funds for cities that refused to turn over immigrants in police custody to punish those cities.
 
Mayors at the conference said most cities do turn over violent offenders who are also undocumented, but vowed not to turn over potential deportees simply because of their immigration status.
 
Garcetti downplayed the threat of federal funds being withheld.
 
"We all wish there were more federal money than we actually get, there’s less and less each year, so maybe it’s less and less of a threat," he said.
 
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said mayors should not be swayed by threats.
 
"We already work with our federal partners in terms of dangerous criminals. That’s a given," de Blasio said, adding, "We can’t live in fear of a potential threat to funding and start doing things that are bad for the people of our cities as a result."
 
Garcetti said Los Angeles would also prepare for potential mass federal raids on public spaces. The Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD) and several religious institutions, Garcetti said, had already declared their status as safe zones. 
 
And Los Angeles set up a legal defense fund to help non-violent immigration offenders — particularly Dreamers and relatives of veterans — protect their due process rights in immigration courts.
 
"These [immigration] courts are not moving as it is today. Double the number cases or try to triple them? It’s going to be years before we hear them. So let’s solve the problem instead of fighting it out one case at a time," said Garcetti.
 
Tom Tait, the Republican mayor of Anaheim, Calif., agreed that pushing legislation through Congress should be the priority.
 
"The message is simply: Bipartisan mayors are seeking immigration reform to fix a broken immigration system and are asking Congress to do it and start immediately," said Tait.