Washington, D.C. – Today, mayors from more than 60 cities across the country joined together to lift their voices in support of immigrants and immigration reform in a ‘Cities Day of Immigration Action.’
U.S. Conference of Mayors leaders Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray hosted a bipartisan press conference call to kick off the Day of Action and highlight the important role of cities in addressing the challenges created by our broken immigration system.
In cities large and small, mayors also hosted events that brought together faith leaders, residents, stakeholders and community based organizations to demonstrate their support for immigrants, share important information about rights and available resources and underscore the value of immigrants to the national economy, as well as local economies.
“Immigration is at the heart of the American story, because people from everywhere have made immeasurable contributions to the diversity, ingenuity, and cultural richness that define who we are. That is especially true in Los Angeles, and people who have made a home here deserve all the resources and protection their City can provide,” said Mayor Garcetti. “No one in Los Angeles should live in fear of being taken from their home, or separated from their family. I will never stop fighting to protect all Angelenos, and making sure they are given the support they need and deserve.”
Mayor Tait stressed, “This is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue or an East coast or West coast issue. It is a bipartisan universal values issue. I believe as mayors, we have credibility on this issue because are closest to the issue. We protect rights and ensure safety in our cities, but have to work around a broken system. We are calling for comprehensive immigration reform, stronger borders, the ability of our state and local enforcement to remain focused on community policing, and the ability to implement a framework that enables people of good will to come out of the shadows and fully pursue the American dream.”
Mayor Elorza explained the origin of today’s call. “Today, mayors are standing up for what we believe in and the fundamental values that guide our work. But our efforts on this issue did not begin today. They were born out of the USCM Winter Meeting in January when mayors around the country came together to speak in one voice with a bipartisan resolution.”
Elorza continued, “Today, our country is great, not in spite of, but because of our immigrant heritage. As Mayor, I will continue to reassure our immigrant community that they are welcome and appreciated in our city, to support our Dreamers, and to work with my colleagues across the country to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.”
Seattle Mayor Murray underscored the reasons behind the mayors’ collective action. “Today, we are standing up for civil rights of all of our residents. Symbolism is important, but action is more important. And we are taking these bold actions today because we believe we have the constitution and the rule of law on our side. Our immigration system is broken for everyone — those working in our hotels, doing our farm work, as well as those working in high-tech industries. Here in Seattle, we recognize that immigrants help to make our local economy stronger, and we know this applies to our national economy as well.”
The mayors were joined on the call by their colleagues Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Gresham (OR) Mayor Shane Bemis and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia who shared their local plans for the Day of Action and discussed the vital contributions that immigrants make to their cities and the nation. Mayors are amplifying their message by using #MayorsStand4All across their social media platforms today and beyond.
Mayor Adler, who has already had funding withheld from Travis County, said, “We often feel like the epicenter of this issue and we are glad to know we are not alone. Mayors build bridges. We see this as an issue of public safety. Austin enjoys being one of the safest cities in country. Our public safety officials tell us that safety we enjoy is due in part to trust relationship that exists between officers and the community. We are now hearing anecdotally that victims of crime are unwilling to step forward because they are afraid. We are bringing these issues to our community so residents can understand we are working on their behalf.”
Mayor Bemis, whose city’s population consists of 17% of residents born outside the country said, “There are real-world consequences to the heated and divisive rhetoric we are hearing from the Administration. When our residents are fearful of law enforcement, they are unlikely to call 9-1-1 to report an emergency, or to partner with police when they are the victim of, or witness to, criminal activity. That means suspects will not be brought to justice and our streets will be less safe.”
Mayor Garcia shared his personal story of immigration on the call saying, “I had the opportunity to become a citizen at the age of 21. I believe every immigrant deserves an opportunity to give back and I want everyone to have the same opportunity that myself and my family had. Immigrants can also grow up to become mayors.”
Mayors are also urging Congress and the Administration to focus on common sense reforms that will fix the nation’s broken immigration system in an efficient, effective and compassionate way. At the Conference’s Annual Winter Meeting in Washington in January, mayors adopted a resolution calling for enactment of bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform and the continuation of programs that protect the temporary status of Dreamers, and recognizes the social, economic and cultural contributions of immigrant communities nationwide.
Tom Cochran, CEO & Executive Director of The Conference said, “Today we celebrate what mayors throughout this nation have done to give us strength in our communities. We left our Winter Meeting strong and united with this resolution and I am putting the full force of the nation’s mayors behind it.”
A full list of the cities participating in the Cities’ Day of Immigration is here.
Audio of today’s press conference call is here.