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‘We have your back’, US mayors tell immigrants

Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles

On the eve of Donald Trump becoming President of the USA, the US Conference of Mayors presented a united front in pushing congress and the new administration to fix “a broken immigration system”.

“Today, America’s mayors have stood behind an emergency resolution to stand up and support the role that immigrants play in our communities,” Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles said in Washington DC during the US Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting. “The strength of American cities rests on providing pathways for full participation and inclusion of all Americans.”

The resolution, passed with bipartisan support, says that mayors would “continue to advocate for an inclusive agenda that supports the economic, social and civic participation and vitality of immigrant communities.”

Garcetti highlighted the fact that since Obama’s Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was implemented–which allowed a pathway to legal status– the average wages of undocumented workers rose 40 percent, helping to increase overall average wage growth by 1 to 2 percent.

“Study after study shows that when we push people back into the shadows they compete unfairly with other workers and push wages down,” he said. “We must find some pathway to citizenship for those 11 million people who are waiting for us.”

The mayors defiantly said that while they do assist federal law enforcement agencies with violent offenders they would not assist deportations merely based on someone’s legal status.

Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans, added that while a mayor’s role in the US is to provide safe streets “becoming a deportation force on behalf of the federal government” is not one of them.

Landrieu said that the gathering of Democrat and Republican mayors speaking with one voice on an issue was “profound” and “not something you see in Washington DC very much”.

Emphasising the bipartisan nature of the resolution, Tom Tait, Republican Mayor of Anaheim in California, said the priority now is to push congress and the new administration to initiate legislation.

“The message is simple: bipartisan mayors are seeking reform to fix a broken immigration system and are asking congress to do it and start immediately,” he said.