Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and dozens of their counterparts from around the country joined forces today to call on Congress and President Donald Trump to fix a “broken” immigration system and pass a comprehensive overhaul of how people are granted entry into the country.
The concerted effort by mayors to call for immigration reform and conduct a “day of action” in support of undocumented immigrants comes a day after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials took their own action in targeting cities.
The agency released its inaugural weekly report on cities or agencies that have been “non-cooperative” with federal immigration detainer requests to hold people in local jails past their typical release dates. The report, which mentioned detainers that appeared to have been issued and rejected at Los Angeles and Anaheim jails, was prompted by an executive order signed by Trump in January.
During a teleconference to discuss the mayors’ “day of action,” Garcetti compared the ICE report to an attempt to pin a “scarlet letter” on cities and law enforcement agencies and said it was “destructive” to collaborative relationships between local and federal governments.”
Tom Cochran, the executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said the group has “serious concerns” about ICE’s report, including questions as to the assertion that the cities listed are “in non-compliance” when they do not honor those detainer requests.
The federal immigration detainer requests are often seen as voluntary by local law enforcement agencies.
Several mayors today highlighted their individual cities’ efforts to help immigrants and to press for federal immigration reform during the teleconference, which was on the Cities’ Day of Immigration Action organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Garcetti, chair of the group’s Latino Alliance.
Anaheim’s Tait, a Republican mayor, said he and Democratic mayors like Jorge Elorza of Providence, Rhode Island, are making a bipartisan push for the federal government to fix the nation’s immigration system.
“(Mayors) are closest to the issue,” said Tait, who co-chairs an immigration reform task force with Elorza in the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
As cities work to “keep people safe and we protect their rights,” Tait said, “we have a broken system we have to work around.”
Tait said the task force is preparing a letter signed by mayors from around the country to demand comprehensive immigration reform from the federal government, and he has also written an op-ed for the Orange County Register.
In Anaheim, the U.S. Conference of Mayors is reaching out to local members of Congress to take action on immigration, Tait said.
Garcetti said cities are doing their part and agree the federal government must move forward on immigration reform that includes a “pathway to citizenship” for the estimated 11 million who are in the country illegally.
“Do what President Reagan and a bipartisan coalition in Congress did in the 1980s,” he said. “It’s long overdue.”
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who emigrated from Peru at age 5, shared his story of coming to the United States during the conference call.
The cities “day of action” kicked off in Los Angeles at 6 a.m. with an on-air, phone-banking event at Univision Studios featuring legal experts giving advice on immigration matters.
Garcetti said he also visited the offices of immigrant advocacy group Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, or CHIRLA, and spoke to immigrants known as DREAMers who were brought to the United States illegally when they were babies or very young. Those immigrants benefited from now-former President Obama’s Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
Garcetti was also planning to sign an executive directive titled “Standing with Immigrants: A City of Safety, Refuge, and Opportunity for All,” at an event at noon with Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck and Councilman Gil Cedillo.
And finally a Know Your Rights workshop will be held at 6 p.m. at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Dolores Mission Parish in downtown Los Angeles.