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US mayors tell President Trump:
“You will not deport our Dreamers”
6 September 2017: American mayors called US President Donald Trump’s decision to terminate the DREAMers programme “deeply flawed”, “morally deficient”, “deeply disheartening”, “cruel”. Yesterday, 5 September 2017, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared that the government would wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, which was introduced by former President Barack Obama in 2012 to provide some 800,000 young immigrants, who came to the US with their parents, with a reprieve from deportation and allow them to work legally in the US. In a Twitter comment, President Trump described the action as necessary to “put the interest of American citizens first.” In an emotional and detailed reply, Barack Obama said Trump’s action was a political decision and moral question. “This is about young people who grew up in America kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”*
The US Conference of Mayors (USCM), which represents cities with populations of more then 30,000, described President Trump’s decision as a deeply flawed public policy that will instil fear and tear American communities apart. In an open letter to Congress the Conference urged quick bi-partisan legislation that would DREAMers to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship if they met certain criteria. “America’s mayors stand ready to do whatever they can to assist Congress in seeing such legislation enacted into law.”
Comment by Tom Cochran, CEO of the US Conference of Mayors:
“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. At the end of August 2017, 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.”
Comments by mayors from across the US:
Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans and USCM President:
“This is a morally deficient decision that 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 neighbourhoods. 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.”
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles:
“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 neighbours 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.”
Jorge Elorza, Mayor of Providence:
“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.”
Tom Tait, Mayor of Anaheim:
“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.”
John Giles, Mayor of Mesa:
“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.”
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City:
"I have a message for President Trump: Don't mess with your fellow New Yorkers. As a city, we do not take kindly to anything that affronts our people. We don't like it when our neighbors are singled out for who they are. On Tuesday (5 Sep 17), the President sent out his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to announce that his administration is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA, as it is known, has allowed 800,000 people brought to the United States as children without documentation to fully participate in the American Dream. Right now, for all of us across the United States, but especially in New York the ultimate city of immigrants this isn't abstract policy. This is a personal crisis that affects people we love; people we live with; people we work with. They woke up this morning to discover their lives are now in limbo. They don't know what tomorrow will bring. So, I would like to say a few things directly to the 30,000 New Yorkers who find themselves in the crosshairs today. YOUR CITY STANDS WITH YOU!
Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago:
“The Windy City will continue to welcome "Dreamers" despite President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme. To all the Dreamers that are in the city of Chicago, you are welcomed in Chicago. This is your home and you have nothing to worry about. Chicago, our schools, our neighborhoods, our city, as it relates to what President Trump said, will be a Trump-free zone. So, to all those who are part of what are referred to as DACA, or ‘Dreamers’, you will always be ‘Dreamers’ in the eyes of the city of Chicago because you have big dreams and we wan to be a part of those dreams.
Ed Lee, Mayor of San Francisco:
“To punish children for seeking a better life is unconscionably cruel. As a country and as a government, we asked young people to step out of the shadows and participate in the DACA program. Now, this administration wants to attack them for their courageous action. This country needs to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Until we do that, political decisions like these will continue to divide our communities and tear families apart.”
Megan Barry, Mayor of Nashville:
“The decision by President Trump to slam the door on hundreds of thousands of DREAMers across the nation is heartbreaking. Many of these children and young adults who are DACA recipients have only ever known the United States as their home. They deserve the chance to gain an education, earn a living, and continue contributing to our community without fear or threat of deportation. I would urge Congress to recognize this and immediately pass legislation that restores DACA as the law of the land.”
David Reinecke, Mayor of Schuyler:
“I only see negative, there’s nothing positive that will become of this. If Congress does not act in due time, some 3,000-plus Nebraska ‘Dreamers’, who came to the United States as kids, could be deported.”
Robert Garcia, Mayor of Long Beach:
“In Long Beach, we have thousands of dreamers at Wilson, Cabrillo, Millikan, Poly you name any school. We have DACA students at Cal State Long Beach and Long Beach City College. They all came to the United States as children and this is the only country they know. They are on our high school football teams that you see on Friday nights, they’re writing important papers at Cal State Long Beach. It’s important to put an actual face on who these kids are. They are our kids and the idea that we can’t create a pathway to citizenship is un-American. They are really good kids, and we all know them because there are thousands of them in Long Beach.”
Frank Jackson, Mayor of Cleveland:
“I stand in opposition to rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program, recognizing that the City of Cleveland thrives on the diversity of its people. Nearly 800,000 young people - including many in the City of Cleveland - may be negatively impacted. I encourage Clevelanders who may fear the loss of citizenship to become familiar with their rights such as knowing what to do if an immigration officer comes to your door, what to do in the event of a raid and knowing the rights of students in schools. America is a nation of immigrants and their descendants. To retroactively change its legal framework to keep new immigrants from enjoying the successes previous generations of immigrants and their descendants have enjoyed does not represent our values. All people are welcome here in the City of Cleveland.”
*Full statement by former
US President Barack Obama
"Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.
But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.
Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people our young people that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.
That bill never came. And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country. We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm. Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.
But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?
Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.
It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.
Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people and who we want to be.
What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union."