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CITIES FOR ACTION ISSUES IMMIGRATION POLICY PRIORITIES FOR THE BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION AND THE 117TH CONGRESS

For Immediate Release: January 19, 2021
Contact: Mediabox@moia.nyc.gov
Contact: joaquin.uy@seattle.gov

CITIES FOR ACTION ISSUES IMMIGRATION POLICY PRIORITIES FOR THE BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION AND THE 117TH CONGRESS 
Coalition’s recommendations include a special focus on an inclusive COVID-19 recovery that considers the needs of all residents and families, regardless of immigration status
NEW YORK — Cities for Action (C4A), which represents nearly 200 U.S. mayors and county executives who advocate for pro-immigrant and inclusive policies and programs that strengthen communities and families, today released a Vision for Immigration Action: Local Leaders’ Recommendations for Building Inclusive, Equitable, and Resilient Communities for All and a sign-on letter from local leaders urging bold action to address the needs of immigrant families and communities across America.
Mayors and county executives from small, large, urban, and rural cities and counties, including Aurora, Colorado; Town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Tucson, Arizona signed onto the Vision for Immigration Action available at citiesforaction.us/vision. The recommendations position C4A member cities and counties as key partners in building an inclusive and equitable COVID recovery for every member of our communities, and follow the December 2020 Cities for Action nationwide convening with representatives from the incoming Biden-Harris Administration.  
“Our city has stood firmly against the Trump administration’s inhumane approach toward our immigrant communities, from their blatant attempts to demonize immigrants to their racist policies that tear families apart,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We have always known that immigrants make our city and our country great, and now is the time to unite and create lasting and meaningful immigration reform alongside the Biden-Harris administration” 
“Cities have remained frontline defenders of immigrant rights and American values over the past four years — and we will always stand firm for the dignity of anyone who calls our country home,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “The inauguration of the Biden-Harris Administration marks a fresh start for our immigration policies and a chance to reaffirm our commitment, locally and nationally, to protecting the refugees, asylum seekers, Dreamers, and all those who strengthen Los Angeles and communities nationwide.”
“Our strong and resilient immigrant communities have put up a great fight over the past four years against relentless xenophobic and racist policies and rhetoric," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "The Cities for Action Vision for Immigration Action outlines the various bold and needed ways the incoming Biden-Harris administration can support our immigrant communities' efforts to build their lives, raise their families, and pursue their dreams free from fear.”
“As a Cities for Action steering committee member, Seattle is proud of this vision for immigration that brings America back on the path of welcoming immigrants,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. “This past year presented unprecedented challenges for cities across the world. We saw the resiliency, compassion and determination of our neighbors, friends, first responders and essential workers as our communities came together to respond to these unimaginable dual crises of the pandemic and economic recession. In 2021, in partnership with cities across the country, there is so much hope on the horizon. Cities like Seattle stand ready to collaborate with this new administration to build back stronger, better and more equitable.”
Nationwide, in cities and counties big and small, immigrants are integral members of communities—they are our teachers, food producers, healthcare workers, and family members. Cities and counties affirm that when immigrant communities are thriving, the country is thriving and that all residents benefit from pro-immigrant and inclusive policies. As a result, C4A is urging the Biden-Harris Administration and the 117th Congress to implement a bold national strategy for immigrant integration and immigration reform that includes:

  • A pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and essential workers
  • Establishment of a White House Office of New Americans
  • Respect proven local public safety strategies by ending efforts to condition federal funding on local cooperation with federal immigration enforcement
  • Increasing access to citizenship
  • Expand support for immigrant crime victims who help law enforcement
  • Support for language access at all levels of government
  • A national funding stream for immigration legal services
  • Keeping families together by rethinking enforcement and shifting away from detention
  • Raising the annual refugee admissions ceiling and rebuilding the resettlement infrastructure
  • Respect proven local public safety strategies by ending efforts to condition federal funding on local cooperation with federal immigration enforcement

An immigration inclusion and reform strategy would not be meaningful without an effective and equitable COVID-19 recovery plan that recognizes the outsized harms suffered and enormous contributions made by our immigrant communities. Many immigrant community members kept our cities and counties running in essential occupations during the pandemic. C4A subsequently is calling for a federal COVID-19 recovery plan that: 

  • Expands access to pandemic relief and health care for small business owners, unemployed workers, and families, regardless of immigration status
  • Deploys strong, coordinated outreach and multilingual messaging that immigrants should not fear interaction with government and can safely access medical care – including COVID-19 testing, treatment, vaccines, and preventative care – as well as emergency food, shelter, and other resources during the pandemic
  • Provides immigration relief that recognizes the contributions of immigrant essential workers and sets them on a path to work authorization and citizenship, as well as enforceable protections for all workers, regardless of immigration status, to help them demand safe working conditions without the fear of retaliation
  • Issues a moratorium on immigration enforcement while the pandemic continues to threaten public health and release vulnerable and immuno-compromised individuals from immigration detention

Visit citiesforaction.us/vision to download C4A’s Vision for Immigration Action.
“Immigrants were among the first impacted by the pandemic but the last to get help, despite many risking their lives serving as essential workers and others being left without a job. Here in the Borderlands, immigrants are not only central to our economy, but to our social and cultural fabric as well. I have strong confidence in the ability of the incoming Biden-Harris Administration to be forward-thinking with their immigration policies. I join localities across the country in encouraging them and the 117th Congress to prioritize immigration reform that will build inclusive, equitable, and resilient communities for all,” said Tucson Mayor Regina Romero.
“Our immigrant families deserve our support, compassion, and relentless advocacy; their story is the American story of hope, inclusion and opportunity,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “As Mayor of America’s most unapologetic Sanctuary City, I urge all to support these common sense policies that will end the nightmare for our valiant Dreamers and advance an immigration system that actually supports our communities, our economy, and our American values.” 
“Amid the many crises we face, supporting our immigrant and refugee communities is more vital than ever,” said Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “This set of priorities will help ensure no one is left behind as we move forward together through these uncertain times.”
“Local leaders know firsthand the critical role immigration plays in realizing economic growth, keeping families together, and reaching our greatest potential as a country. We have seen the devastating impact federal, xenophobic policies and the COVID-19 pandemic have had on our immigrant communities, but are continuously inspired by their resilience and fortitude,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “It is in that spirit of hope that together we present these recommendations for immigration action and stand ready to work alongside the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress to seize this moment and build a more resilient and inclusive nation, for the benefit of all.”
“This past year made ever clear the essential role immigrant New Yorkers  hold in keeping the city safe and healthy amid the pandemic,” said JL Paniagua Valle, Deputy Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “I commend the efforts of these leaders across the country to help ensure immigrant communities are fully included in civic life.” 
“This pandemic is a stark reminder of how immigrants contribute to the well-being of everyone in our communities yet disproportionately experience the negative effects of crises. This Vision for Immigration Action reflects the on-the-ground experiences of immigrants in Boston and recognizes their dignity and humanity. Immigrants are integral to our communities and we are committed to working alongside municipalities throughout the United States to make this vision of a just and orderly federal immigration system a reality,” said Yusufi Vali, Director of the Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement.
“We applaud the incredible efforts of Cities for Action,” said Celine Kennelly-Chair, Mario Paz-Vice Chair, and Adrienne Pon-Executive Director of the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission. “For over 22 years, the IRC has been fighting for fair and humane immigration policies and the full inclusion of immigrants, regardless of their status.  We join C4A in also advancing strategies for an inclusive and equitable COVID-19 recovery plan.”
In recent years, in the face of damaging rhetoric and policies at the federal level, C4A and its members have led the charge to create safe and inclusive environments for diverse communities. These initiatives have included the development of municipal IDs, legal and other support for immigrants seeking citizenship or other immigration benefits, the expansion of language access, and the fight to defend our values as localities and a country of immigrants with policies that advance community trust and greater safety for all.
About Cities for Action 
Cities for Action is a coalition of nearly 200 U.S. mayors and county executives working to advocate for and promote civic inclusion of our immigrant communities. Click HERE to see a list of Cities for Action mayors and county executives. To learn more about our work, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 


Joaquin (wah KEEN) Uy (wee)  |  him/them
External Affairs Manager and Policy Advisor
Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

 

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