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A Mayoral Vote for Immigration Reform

Yesterday, The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed two resolutions lashing out against the status quo in immigration policy. The measures denounced Arizona’s harsh new immigration law and highlighted the serious consequences of federal inaction on comprehensive reform.

Sponsored by Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, the first resolution details the Conference’s strong opposition to SB 1070 and expresses support for challenging the law in court. In his remarks, Gordon said that the law was “morally, economically and legally” wrong, and further appealed to mayors to get involved in efforts to push back against copycat legislation being considered across the country.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sponsored the second, which calls for Congressional action on comprehensive immigration reform as well as the immediate repeal of SB 1070. The document sheds light on the fiscal burden our current system places on city and state governments, and the responsibility of cities to “respect the rights of and provide equal services to all individuals regardless of national origin or immigration status.”

The second measure also included a set of fairly centrist principles for immigration reforms that are intended to shape national legislation:

Providing greater border security and enforcement, with a ‘zero tolerance’ policy against gang members, smugglers, terrorists and undocumented immigrants who commit violent and dangerous felonies while residing in the U.S;

Providing more fiscal support for city and state governments which are disproportionately shouldering the costs of the current broken immigration system;

Implementing a pathway to citizenship of the estimated 11-12 million undocumented immigrants that requires a background check, payment of fines or back taxes, proficiency in English and standing in the ‘back of the citizenship line.’

It is critical that the Conference spoke to the dire need for federal and state immigration policy that works for cities. Mayors, police chiefs and other city leaders are uniquely positioned to deal with the fallout when it doesn’t. Going forward, Congress needs to pay more attention to the concerns of urban leaders like Mayors Gordon and Villaraigosa when crafting immigration reform legislation--these resolutions are a good place to start.

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Posted at 1:57 PM, Jun 15, 2010 in Immigration
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