Immigrant Advocates Getting Cities to Back Them
Immigration advocates are increasing pressure in hopes that the president announces a moratorium on forced removals
Roxana Kopetman, Orange County Register
Originally published at OCRegister.com.
Published on LatinoLA: January 28, 2014
Immigrant-rights advocates are turning to elected leaders across the nation to drive home their message to President Obama ‘«Ű stop deportations.
They are following the lead of the Los Angeles City Council, which in December adopted a resolution urging the president to cease them. Advocates are working with elected officials in Anaheim, Carson, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and other cities to introduce similar resolutions.
"It's a movement that is taking hold across the nation as the next step in the immigrant-rights front," said Guillermo G??mez, spokesman for an alliance in Chicago that is working with elected leaders to introduce a resolution in his city on Tuesday.
In Orange County, the Anaheim City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a resolution that urges the president to "protect our families from destructive and needless immigration deportations." It asks Obama to suspend deportations and expand a program, now available to young people, to all unauthorized immigrants with no serious criminal history.
The resolution is similar to L.A.'s declaration, urging Obama to use his executive powers to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to all unauthorized residents until Congress decides what to do about reforming the country's immigration system. Obama has said that he does not have that authority.
There have been about 2 million deportations since Obama became president ‘«Ű a record for any administration.
"Now, instead of calling for mobilization and fasting and vigils and prayers, we're saying: 'Go to your elected officials and have your representatives' voices, through these resolutions, go to the White House,' " said Armando Vazquez-Ramos, a Cal State Long Beach professor and an organizer with the Protect Our Families Campaign.
On Friday, a group of religious leaders from different denominations joined Vazquez-Ramos, L.A. Councilman Gil Cedillo, who wrote the resolution in his city, along with other elected officials at a press conference as part of a "National Day of Action" on deportations. California Sen. Ronald Calderon, D-Montebello, presented a resolution he introduced on Thursday that echoes LA.'s declaration.
With phone calls and emails, advocates also are increasing pressure in hopes that the president will announce a moratorium on the forced removals during his State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Republican leaders are expected to announce in the coming week their proposal for immigration reform. And many Americans are asking their representatives to not give in to the pressure from immigrant supporters, saying that making citizens of the estimated 11 million unauthorized residents will hurt the nation and its citizens.
Opponents of illegal immigration plan to meet Monday with staff members of several California Republicans, including Congressmen John Campbell, R-Irvine; Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach; Ed Royce, R-Fullerton; and Ken Calvert, R-Corona.
"We stand with the 16 Republican Congress members who recently submitted a letter to President Obama demanding that American workers ‘«Ű more than 22 million looking for a job ‘«Ű be the focus of legislation, not illegal aliens," said Robin Hvidston, executive director of We The People Rising in Claremont.
Supporters often cite the plight of children impacted by the deportations. On the Anaheim City School District, Jose Moreno, president of the Anaheim City School District Board of Education, said he plans to ask his colleagues to consider a resolution that would address the impact of deportations on children.
"In our schools, we have many students who are in mixed-status families ‘«Ű families where one adult/parent or a sibling is undocumented while other siblings are U.S.-born citizens," Moreno said. "As educators, it is extremely difficult and morally unsustainable to engage children, build up their hopes for their futures, and push them to achieve to the best of their abilities when they are at daily risk of their families being torn apart."
Carson Councilman Mike Gipson plans to ask his colleagues for their support in early February on a resolution that would be shared with South Bay cities.
"We have to speak with one voice, so that our president understands this affects all of us," Gipson said.
Meanwhile, in Kern County, immigrant-rights advocates are working to produce similar resolutions, said Gonzalo Santos, a spokesman for the Kern Coalition for Citizenship. Last week, immigrant-rights supporters won "a big victory" in Kern County with the help of the American Civil Rights Union, Santos said. The Department of Homeland Security agreed to halt its practice of arresting people who went to Kern County courthouses to get married, pay fines or seek domestic-violence restraining orders.
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