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Mayors Warn: Inaction on Immigration Reform 'Has Real Consequences'

Citing costs to immigrant families and economy, coalition calls for immediate implementation of Obama's executive action on immigration

In a brief filed on Monday, April 5, 73 mayors vow to fight for immigration reform. (Photo: Justin Valas/cc/flickr)

In a brief filed on Monday, April 5, 73 U.S. mayors vow to fight for immigration reform. (Photo: Justin Valas/cc/flickr)

Delaying President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration reform is not only hurting immigrant families but is also wrecking the local economy in U.S cities coast to coast, a coalition of more than 70 city and county leaders charged in a brief filed on Monday.

The friend-of-the-court brief, filed in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Texas vs. United States lawsuit, argues that cities—where most immigrants live—are on the front lines of the country's broken immigration system.

"Continuing to delay implementation of the President’s executive action on immigration hurts our economy and puts families at risk," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who initiated the push under the group Cities United for Immigration Action. 

Under Obama's plan, which was announced in November of last year, as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants with longstanding ties to the U.S. may be permitted to stay and work temporarily. However, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction halting the action until the courts weighed a suit filed by the state of Texas with backing from 25 Republican-led states which argues that the executive order is unconstitutional. Monday marked the deadline for all amicus briefs supporting the U.S. in the case. 

In their rebuke, 73 mayors and other local leaders—many of whom are defying heads of state who supported the suit—say they will not stand on the sidelines while partisan bickering continues to threaten local communities.

"Too many immigrants live in fear, afraid to become members of our society, while Congress fails to take any meaningful action to fix a broken immigration system," said Hoboken, New Jersey Mayor Dawn Zimmer. "Their inaction has real consequences for our communities."

According to the brief, the executive action will "benefit cities and counties by providing work authorization to millions, increasing local tax revenue, stimulating local economies, facilitating the civic engagement of immigrants, keeping families together, and improving public safety by strengthening our neighborhoods and communities."

Further, it reads, delaying immigration reform has "significant costs" for mixed-status immigrant families, who live in ongoing fear deportation and separation, "a situation that has profound emotional, educational, and health impacts on children."

While many immigrant rights advocates said that the executive order did not go nearly far or enough, others, including Obama himself, said the order was only intended to serve as a temporary reprieve in lieu of more permanent immigration reform.

"Cities are where immigrants live, and cities are where the President’s executive action will be successfully implemented," DeBlasio continued. "Our cities are united, and we will fight for the immigration reform this nation needs and deserves – whether in the courtroom, in Congress, or in our communities. Make no mistake about it: our voices will be heard."

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