Last week at their annual meeting, the United States Conference of Mayors passed a resolution among their members calling for comprehensive immigration reform. The sponsors of that resolution, Los Angeles, California Mayor and U.S. Conference of Mayors President Antonio Villaraigosa and Laredo, Texas Mayor Raul Salinas explain why immigration reform cannot wait.
Los Angeles, California Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:
Last week, the nation’s mayors gathered in Baltimore to discuss the issues that matter most to Americans. Together, we resolved that one of the best ways to achieve our collective goals of strengthening the economy, ensuring our global competitiveness, and securing our homeland, is through comprehensive immigration reform.
The United States has always been enriched by the economic and cultural contributions of immigrants. Immigrants have spurred innovation, made major financial contributions to our nation, and bravely served our country in the armed forces. Yet our current, broken system turns a blind eye to their countless contributions.
Today’s immigration law lacks accountability and responsibility, exploits undocumented workers, and undermines the American workforce.
The system must be reformed now. We must embrace the DREAM Act and the millions of young people who would be given a pathway to citizenship with it. We must embrace AgJobs to ensure that agricultural workers can earn residency and stabilize their workforce. And we must provide a path to citizenship for the undocumented persons who meet strict requirements.
As Mayors of cities that are home to millions of immigrants, we know that comprehensive immigration reform is a key to prosperity for all Americans. For the sake of our economy, security, and competitiveness, comprehensive immigration reform is the right thing to do.
Laredo, Texas Mayor Raul Salinas:
Because I agree with President Obama that we cannot surrender to the forces in favor of the status quo on immigration reform, I offered a resolution for consideration by the United States Conference of Mayors meeting this summer in Baltimore. For too long, comprehensive immigration reform has been held hostage to political posturing and special-interest wrangling and to the pervasive sentiment in Washington that tackling such a thorny and emotional issue is inherently bad politics.
As a mayor, as a Hispanic community leader, and as an American, I will not accept the polarization and pettiness that prevents this nation from addressing one of the great challenges of our times: comprehensive immigration reform.
I was proud to be joined by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in championing a resolution in support of comprehensive immigration reform and recognition of the great value immigrants have provided to this nation. The language, which is available at www.usmayors.org, was unanimously adopted by our colleagues on a bi-partisan basis.
And why was it that mayors could reach agreement on matters that other elected officials cannot? That may be best explained in the inaugural address of Mayor Villaraigosa as the 69th President of the Conference of Mayors: “You hire a mayor to act. And the American people desperately need us to act now.”
Read the text of their resolution here.
Cecilia Muñoz is Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs