City of Oakland supports President Obama’s immigration reform plans
on April 14, 2015
Mayor Libby Schaaf and City Attorney Barbara Parker announced last Monday that Oakland has joined the Cities United for Immigration Action (CUIA), a national coalition that supports President Barack Obama’s appeal of a federal district court order that halted his recent immigration reform plans.
“We continue to stand with President Obama and millions of Americans in affording law-abiding individuals a path to citizenship, the chance to earn an honest living and freedom from the fear of having their families torn apart,” said Schaaf in a statement released last week. “We look forward to a resolution in this case that reaffirms this fundamental American ideal.”
Through CUIA, Oakland is one of 73 cities and counties that joined an amicus brief urging an immediate implementation of Obama’s immigration reform in the State of Texas v. United States of America case. The Latin term “amicus brief” translates to “friend of the court,” and usually concerns a public interest. They are commonly filed with a Court of Appeals in order to educate the court on a certain side of a case that might have been overlooked.
Last November, Obama announced several immigration reform changes as part of an executive action. The announcement introduced and renewed programs that would assist over 4 million undocumented children and adults. For instance, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, was first announced in 2012 and offered protection from deportation and work permits to undocumented youth for a two-year period. DACA was renewed and extended to a three-year period by the president in his recent executive plan.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reports from 2013, roughly 13,000 DACA applications were received from the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metropolitan area during its first year.
Obama also announced a new program, DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parental Accountability. The program is similar to DACA and would assist the undocumented parents of U.S. permanent residents or U.S. citizens. He also proposed a redesign of interior enforcement programs focusing on individuals who pose a security threat, have a criminal record and recently arrived to the U.S. Finally, he expanded the options for immigrants trying to gain residency through U.S. citizen family members.
Obama’s executive plan would only aid undocumented individuals who qualify and does not provide a path towards citizenship.
Despite the announcement, those proposed changes were put on hold this year. On February 16, U.S. district judge Andrew S. Hanen from Brownsville, Texas issued a preliminary injunction order with the support of 26 other states that blocked Obama’s plan. “The President has effectuated a change in the law solely because he wanted the law changed and because Congress would not acquiesce in his demands,” stated Judge Hanen in his injunction order. “Obviously, the Government denies these assertions.”
In the amicus brief filed last week, Oakland and 73 other cities and counties argue that Judge Hanen’s block on immigration reform did not consider the significant costs the preliminary injunction order would bring to local economies and immigrant families. For Oakland City Attorney Parker, the deportation of hard-working individuals that positively contribute to Oakland is a significant cost. “We’re facing major disruptions of families being deported,” said Parker in a phone interview this week. “Texas’ lawsuit is a desperate attempt to turn back the hands of time. Our nation is marching forward,” said Parker. She added that this kind of decision would affect the diverse community of Oakland and its immigrant families.
The amicus brief states that: “Local officials witness every day the contributions that immigrants make to their neighborhoods and communities, as well as the harms that result from keeping long-time residents of those neighborhoods and communities in the shadows due to their immigration status.” According to the brief, the implementation of the president’s plan will increase public safety by encouraging immigrants to cooperate with law enforcement, help stimulate local economic growth, increase local tax revenue, facilitate the full integration of immigrants within their communities, and keep families together.
According to 2013 United States Census bureau records, more than a quarter of Oakland residents are foreign-born. “President Obama’s actions will be a tremendous help to Oakland families—and millions of families across the country—that are contributing to their communities and working to make a better life for their children,” said Parker in her statement.
Oakland is one of six California cities that were listed in the brief. Mayors, county officials, and local governments from West Covina, Santa Monica, Santa Ana, San Jose and San Francisco also signed.
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