President Barack Obama continues to face heavy criticism from Republicans for his recent announced immigration policy changes. At the same time, immigrant activists have voiced disappointment for the president not going far enough to extend deportation deferral to a greater number of immigrants. Meanwhile, a number of mayors from across the country are gathering in support of the president's executive action on immigration.
Some twenty-five mayors from all across the nation have formed a coalition in support of President Obama's executive policy changes on immigration. The mayors are members of the Cities United for Immigration Action, looking to support and help implement the president's executive action plans on the local level, and to further pressure Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform.
Their joint statement voiced their aims to lead the national dialogue on immigration reform. “The president's action on immigration will strengthen our cities,” said the statement, “It will keep families together, grow our economies and foster additional community trust in law enforcement and government.”
No Arizona mayor will be represented in the group, which represent some of the largest cities across the country, including Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago. In fact, of the 6 largest cities in the U.S., only the mayor of Phoenix has not joined in support of the president's immigration policy. On the other hand, Tucson, Arizona remains committed to the Welcoming Cities and Counties program, as a city which identifies itself as an immigrant friendly environment. It remains the only Arizona city in the group.
The individual mayors added brief statements in advance of a coming meeting of the mayors to take place in New York on December 8th. The mayors hope the group can act to present a unified position to immigrants that they are an integral part of the local communities, and should be welcomed as such. According to New York Mayor, Bill de Blasio, he hopes the group will be able to come up with a plan, “that truly prepares our localities for swift implementation of changes and also advocates for further reforms from the municipal level all the way up to Washington.”
As a son of immigrants, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee called his city a model for the nation in welcoming immigrants and empowering new citizens. “San Francisco will continue its leadership on this issue and will remain a place that welcomes all residents, regardless of where or how they arrived,” Lee said. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti simply said that, “common sense immigration reforms will strengthen and stabilize L.A. families and will add millions to our economy.”
While Republican lawmakers continue to speak out against the president's executive actions, they remain divided in their party as to what action they should take against the immigration policy announcements. Part of the goal of the mayoral conference will be to pressure Congress to pass broader immigration reform. According to White House spokesman Eric Schultz, “what the president announced was an important step in addressing [immigration] challenges, but there's more to be done.” Schultz continued, “if Congress were to pass comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform,” then the president would sign that bill into law.