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City hall leaders at the U.S. Conference of Mayors were optimistic President-elect Trump will set aside divisive campaign rhetoric and work with them to fix the broken system.
WASHINGTON — A bipartisan coalition of mayors proposed an emergency resolution Wednesday urging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation fixing the “broken” system, at the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual winter meeting in the nation’s capital.
The resolution further called on Congress and the incoming Trump administration to continue protecting the temporary status of Dreamers—undocumented people brought to the U.S. as kids—and undocumented parents of children in the military.
Previously, USCM has passed resolutions seeking more secure borders, a streamlined visa process and a framework allowing undocumented immigrants to come out of hiding.
“Study after study shows when you push people back into the shadows they work for less, and they compete unfairly with other workers and drive everyone’s wages down,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, flanked by mayors from Phoenix, Seattle, New Orleans, Boston and elsewhere. “Conversely, legal status means a more prosperous economy not just for them but for all of us.”
President Obama created pathways to legal status for 740,000 undocumented immigrants, Garcetti added, allowing those in his city to see a 40 percent wage increase on average.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to inclusion of immigrants in cities, said Providence, Rhode Island, Mayor Jorge Elorza, who rebuffed misinformation they’re more likely to commit crimes and praised being bilingual as a valuable skill in today’s global economy.
On the campaign trail, President-elect Trump vowed to cut funding to sanctuary cities committed to harboring undocumented immigrants like New York City. The nation’s largest city has almost 8.5 million residents, about half a million of whom are undocumented.
“Yes, we already work with our federal partners in terms of dangerous criminals. That’s a given,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “But in terms of a threat to funding that would take away from our efforts to help our people everyday—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.”
Republican and Democratic mayors present painted the issue of immigration as a nonpartisan one, and Garcetti pointed out two people who’ve proposed legislation in Congress to protect Dreamers have been Republicans.
In the event of federal raids, the Los Angeles Unified School District and local faith institutions have committed to being safe havens for undocumented residents, and the nation’s second-largest city and others, including San Francisco, have established justice funds to provide immigrants facing deportation with legal counsel. Those that have adequate counsel are eight times more likely to see a successful outcome in court, Garcetti said.
“This president-elect has said he wants to be a unifying president and unify all of us,” he said. “What better way to do that than to help enact comprehensive immigration reform to fix a broken system and make sure our economy is strong, to ensure people don’t live in fear of deportation and to have our cities and streets be safe?”
Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty based in Washington D.C.