Republican and Democratic Mayors Call for Bipartisan Solution to Protect Dreamers

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) joined Jin Park, a Dreamer and Harvard molecular biology student, and a bipartisan group of mayors representing the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) for a telephone press conference to urge Congress to pass the Dream Act before the end of the year.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, led the call, and was joined by Anaheim, CA Mayor Tom Tait; Providence, RI Mayor Jorge Elorza; and Mesa, AZ Mayor John Giles in calling on Congress to protect Dreamers, who know no other home than the United States. In the three months since the DACA program was terminated, more than 10,000 Dreamers have lost protection from deportation. Mayors, who understand the enormous cost of policies that endanger these families, argued that it is time to enable Dreamers to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship if they meet certain criteria. In October 2017, 176 bipartisan mayors in 39 states and the District of Columbia sent an open letter to Congress urging quick passage of such bipartisan legislation.

On the call, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) said, “The idea behind the Dream Act is a big idea. The American people get it overwhelmingly; 76% believe we should give these people who were brought to America at a young age a chance… We have a bipartisan start. We have to get to the finish line, and stand together with these young people.”

“Mayors want to urge Congress to demonstrate its commitment to the American people by passing the Dream Act,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “DACA recipients provide invaluable contributions to our cities and our economies. Diversity is one of our greatest strengths and it can never be looked upon as a weakness.”

“It’s easy to forget what DACA means. My ability to talk about this experience openly and to be employed and to really feel like I’m a part of this country, all of those benefits were brought to me by DACA,” said Jin Park, Dreamer and Harvard student. “All of the undocumented people, we are resilient. We embody values that have defined this nation for years. No matter what happens, we’re going to be resilient.”

“The reason mayors are united on this is because we are closest to this issue,” said Mayor Tom Tait, Anaheim (CA), Co-chair USCM Immigration Reform Task Force. “We deal with the people day to day. Imagine going through life not knowing whether or not you can legally be here in a matter of months. Immigration reform is about social infrastructure and social capital. When you have such a large group of people living in the shadows, that erodes the fabric of the city.

“Passing the Dream Act makes economic sense and is consistent with our nation’s values. There’s a reason why in 2010, 40% of Fortune 500 companies were started by the children of immigrants. It’s about giving people an opportunity who are willing to work hard and bust their tails,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza, Providence (RI), Co-chair USCM Immigration Reform Task Force. “We need to make sure that immigrants feel included and continue to contribute to our communities. We want them to be able to pay taxes, start businesses, go to school, and feel comfortable enough to reach out to authorities if they are victims or witnesses to a crime.”

“Coming from a border state, we don’t see this as a partisan issue,” said Mayor John Giles, Mesa (AZ). “There’s a moral reason here to follow through on the commitment and the invitation we extended to these patriotic young Americans. These are our children. Keeping them in the shadow is a shameful way to deal with them as members of our community.”

“We’ve been vigorous on this issue. In late September, a bipartisan group of mayors that came to Washington; in October, we sent a letter to Congress. So it’s not over – it’s crunch time. Congress must stand up and pass the Dream Act now,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director, U.S. Conference of Mayors.