New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and more than 30 other Democratic mayors today unveiled plans to file a formal legal brief backing President Barack Obama’s unilateral immigration reforms.
In November, after Congress failed to pass long-stalled legislation to fix the nation’s broken immigration system, the President made good on a vow to go it alone.
With the stroke of a pen, he lifted the threat of deportation that hung over more than four million undocumented immigrants, and opened a path to citizenship. His executive order allows for easier work visa renewals and gives extra legal protections to children.
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Republicans cried foul and GOP governors in 25 states have filed challenges in federal court accusing Obama of executive overreach. They are seeking an injunction to halt the first of the changes to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy set for next month.
De Blasio, Nutter and the other mayors will argue an amicus brief that "the public interest across the country is served clearly and overwhelmingly by implementing immigration reform by executive action."
"Delaying implementation of the President’s executive action will further hurt our families, negatively impact our economies, and create unnecessary insecurity in our communities,” de Blasio said in a statement released in Washington at the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Nutter agreed:"It is imperative that we give new Americans opportunities that will allow them to succeed because the current immigration system is holding them, our city and our country back. President Obama’s executive action provides relief to immigrant families, but it is not a permanent solution."
But he cautioned lasting fixes must come through changes in the law.'
"I urge our representatives in Congress to work with our President to establish a law that addresses the problems of the current immigration system that are clear to all of us – regardless of party or status," the Philly mayor said.
Major immigrations rights groups hailed the mayors' announcement.
"Today Bill de Blasio and mayors across the country are showing the broad support that the President's administrative action on immigration enjoys. Mayors play a key role in integrating immigrants across the country, and know firsthand how this action will strengthen communities,” said Vicente Mayorga, immigration organizer at Make The Road New York.
“We're proud to see them taking leadership to show the significant support that exists for the President's action in cities throughout the country, even in states that have signed the lawsuit against it," he said.
Republicans, who now control both houses of Congress, say they’re not necessarily opposed to all the changes but rather are opposed to what they consider an abuse of power by the commander-in-chief.
“This lawsuit is not about immigration. It is about the rule of law, presidential power, and the structural limits of the U.S. Constitution,” the GOP governors said in their court challenge, which was filed in Texas.