Mayors and County Executives Urge Congressional Action on Immigrant Inclusion
WASHINGTON – Twenty-two mayors and county executives from across the country sent a letter sent to Congressional leaders today supporting their efforts to reform the immigration system and urging them to advance inclusive provisions that will help to ensure that immigrants are able to meet their full potential, to everyone’s benefit.
The letter voiced its support for the U.S Citizenship Act, which the Biden administration presented on its first day in office and was introduced in Congress in February 2021. The Act included ten provisions from the New Deal for New Americans Act, which was also introduced in February 2021 by Representative Grace Meng (NY) and Senator Edward Markey (MA). Those provisions include a legal services grant program to help eligible immigrants to naturalize and get other immigration benefits, a workforce development and English-language learning program, and several provisions that facilitate naturalization. The letter also voiced support for the establishment of a National Office of New Americans to coordinate a national plan for integration and bring an inclusivity lens to the work of other federal agencies.
The letter urges Congress to follow the lead of local elected officials across the country who have been at the forefront of immigrant and refugee integration: “our cities and counties have been leading the way in inclusion policies and programming such as language access, citizenship services, and workforce development. With strong federal leadership and support, we are confident we can expand upon this work to address the growing need to fully integrate our immigrant residents.”
“As the ultimate city of immigrants, NYC is proof that fully integrating immigrants into the fabric of our communities only makes us stronger. Our City’s inclusive policies and programs have helped us reach and address the needs of communities with critical information and services during the largest global public health crisis of our lifetime,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I am proud to join cities and localities across the country that have been leading the charge on integration efforts and urging Congress to take the common-sense steps we need to build a national integration strategy. Truly successful immigration reform must go hand in hand with efforts to ensure our immigrant residents are civically, economically, and socially engaged in our society.”
“Over the course of the pandemic and especially throughout the four years that came before it, our immigrant communities have endured heightened levels of racism, xenophobia and hate—all while continuing to make up the social and economic fabric of our cities and our entire country,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “As Mayor of a city that has long been known as one of the most welcoming cities for immigrants, I find it all the more important to support efforts that will fully integrate our immigrant residents and remove the barriers they face in obtaining upward mobility. That’s why I, along with Cities for Action and the National Partnership for New Americans, are calling for immigration reform that is truly transformative, holistic and inclusive.”
“It’s time that we shift the narrative around immigration issues from strictly being about enforcement to discussing how we can also tap into the tremendous resources that our immigrant communities possess. By creating a National Office of New Americans, we can more fully and humanely integrate our immigrant communities into every aspect of our society while re-affirming that we welcome and value their skills and talents” said Tucson Mayor Regina Romero.
“Local governments across the country continue to lead when it comes to integrating our immigrant communities. From workforce development to ESOL classes and GED programs, to providing access to legal services and cash assistance programs, Richmond and Contra Costa County invest in ALL our residents. Establishing a National Office of New Americans would only enhance the work done locally and further unite us as a nation” said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt.
“As Mayor of Philadelphia, I am proud that in 2019 our residents voted to make our local Office of Immigrant Affairs a permanent part of our municipal government—which is now reflected in our City charter. I have personally seen the benefits of having this office serve as an integral part of our administration, advising on local policies, programs, and strategies to protect and include all of our immigrant residents into the daily fabric of our city. It is now time for the federal government to make the same commitment to immigrant integration, especially offering a pathway to citizenship, which leads to increased safety and economic stability for the individual families and our communities. A National Office of New Americans would work across all federal agencies to offer leadership in advancing a comprehensive immigrant integration strategy and a more welcoming and thriving country for all our residents. It is good policy, and it’s simply the right thing to do.”
“As the Mayor of Oakland, CA we are committed to creating opportunities such as language access programs, workforce development opportunities and cash assistance programs that will help our immigrant families thrive, build economic stability and feel fully integrated. We urge congress to pass legislation that creates full integration in immigrant communities”
The letter continues: “while securing immigration status for our 11 million undocumented residents is the priority, we must also assist our over 13 million lawful permanent residents in obtaining citizenship and ensure that our over 23 million naturalized citizens are civically, economically, and socially engaged in our society.”
The letter comes as Congress is actively considering immigration reform, including legislation that passed in the House of Representatives that would create a road to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients and agricultural workers. The White House and Congressional leadership is also under increasing pressure from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, other Congressional members, and immigrant advocates to include a road to citizenship for those groups and essential workers through the reconciliation process, related to the federal budget, where only 51 votes in the Senate would be necessary.
The National Partnership for New Americans and Cities for Action have called for legislation that creates a road to citizenship to be accompanied by inclusion or integration provisions that facilitate naturalization, create a National Office of New Americans, and invest in immigrant communities. Among the mayors lending their voice to this call are:
- Mayor Regina Romero, Tucson, AZ
- Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles, CA
- Mayor Libby Schaaf, Oakland, CA
- Mayor Sue Higgins, Oakley, CA
- Mayor Tom Butt, Richmond, CA
- Mayor Sam Liccardo, San Jose, CA
- Mayor Mike Coffman, Aurora, CO
- Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver, CO
- Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Miami-Dade County, FL
- Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, Chicago, IL
- President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County, IL
- Mayor Joseph Curtatone, Somerville, MA
- Mayor Jacob Frey, Minneapolis, MN
- Mayor Pam Hemminger, Chapel Hill, NC
- Mayor Tim Keller, Albuquerque, NM
- Mayor Kathy M. Sheehan, Albany, NY
- Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City, NY
- Mayor James F. Kenney, Philadelphia, PA
- Mayor Steve Adler, Austin, TX
- Mayor Ron Nirenberg, San Antonio, TX
- Mayor Jenny Wilson, Salt Lake County, UT
- Mayor Victoria R. Woodards, Tacoma, WA