Fix Our Broken Immigration System

The United States has always been a country of laws. But we are also a nation of immigrants; it was founded by immigrants and enriched by the diversity of its immigrants, many of whom have come here to escape religious persecution, war, genocide, and tyranny in hopes of sharing in freedom and prosperity through hard work. Mayors recognize that our cities are inclusive, multicultural centers reflecting core American values that foster economic prosperity and opportunity, and that our diversity and inclusion keeps us competitive and makes us strong.

Immigration is often the difference between population loss and population growth for U.S. cities. Mayors around the country are welcoming immigrants and refugees because they bolster local economies, fill vacant homes and storefronts, strengthen municipal finances, and rekindle economic dynamism. Highly skilled immigrants and international students, in particular, are great sources of innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent for the United States and help to keep the country connected and competitive in an era of increasing globalization.

Despite what cities are experiencing, some recent federal policies and the rhetoric accompanying them can be characterized as anti-immigrant, and it has hurt immigrants residing in this country, struck fear in our immigrant communities, reduced our standing in the world, and re-racialized the American immigration system. Efforts to fix our broken immigration system have stalled. To preserve the dignity of our immigrant communities, recognize the contributions that immigrants make to cities and the Nation, and counter the growth of anti-immigrant sentiment, mayors call on the President and Congress to:

  • Halt punitive federal policies aimed at reducing the number of immigrants coming to our country. This includes, but is not limited to, repealing the public charge rule; ceasing to try to withhold public safety funds from cities with welcoming policies; reinstating legally mandated humane procedures for those requesting asylum and those entering the country without documentation, including keeping families together and out of detention; eliminating barriers to naturalization; and returning to previous levels of annual refugee admissions, as a minimum.
  • Enact legislation to ensure that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients continue to live in, contribute to, and ensure the prosperity of the cities and the Nation they call home.
  • Provide funding directly to local communities and non-governmental organizations to address the humanitarian crisis at the southern border and return Customs and Border Protection and other federal officials deployed to the border to their original duty assignments as quickly as possible.
  • Halt immigration policies that separate young children from their parents at the border and invest in resources that promote family unity as cases are being adjudicated.
  • Embrace the idea of “Heartland Visas,” providing a new pathway for skilled immigrants with adequate labor protections to be matched with welcoming communities.
  • Embrace immigration as a key driver for economic recovery and long-term economic growth.
  • Reform our broken immigration system by enacting legislation that:
  • Sustains genuine border security, supports federal immigration enforcement, and keeps our cities safe by ensuring state and local law enforcement remains focused on community policing and not on enforcing federal immigration laws.

Establishes an efficient, less bureaucratic, expedient, and more time-sensitive system with adequate labor protections that allows workers of all types to lawfully come to the United States, either temporarily or permanently, and contribute to our economy.

Provides an employment verification system that is enforceable, uniform, accurate, and timely.

Enables people to come out of the shadows and pursue the American Dream for themselves and their families. This is essential to the economic vitality of our cities and our Nation as a whole.