WASHINGTON -- Leaders from more than 70 cities and counties, some going against their states, joined a legal brief filed Monday asking an appeals court to allow President Barack Obama's deportation relief policies to move forward.
"Continuing to delay implementation of the president’s executive action on immigration hurts our economy and puts families at risk," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), who spearheaded the effort with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) as part of Cities United for Immigration Action, said in a statement.
"Cities are where immigrants live, and cities are where the president's executive action will be successfully implemented," he continued. "Our cities are united, and we will fight for the immigration reform this nation needs and deserves -- whether in the courtroom, in Congress, or in our communities. Make no mistake about it: our voices will be heard."
Obama's plan to expand deferred action for undocumented immigrants has been stalled in the courts since mid-February, after a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction while considering a lawsuit challenging the policies' constitutionality.
Under the policies Obama announced in November, as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants with longstanding ties to the U.S. may be able to stay and work temporarily.
Twenty-six states, led by Texas, filed the lawsuit, arguing the relief programs would cause them harm and violate the Constitution. They've won support from some Republican members of Congress and governors.
But 14 states and the District of Columbia, including some led by Republicans, filed an amicus brief, saying the programs should be allowed to move forward.
Garcetti and de Blasio spearheaded a similar brief in January and received about 30 signatures. The latest brief is backed by mayors, county executives and governments from 73 cities and counties in 27 states. The National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors also have joined the brief. The cities and counties are home to 43 million people, according to organizers of the brief.
Some cities signing onto the brief are in states that joined the lawsuit against the president's executive actions. Houston, the most populous city in Texas, is part of the cities' and counties' brief, as is the state capital, Austin. Cities and counties in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arizona, Ohio, Indiana, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Florida and Utah also signed on, even though their states are suing over the executive actions.
The brief argues the executive actions would be good for public safety and the economy in their cities and counties, and would help immigrants integrate and keep families together. The delay in implementing Obama's orders, the brief argues, "harms their cities and counties and all residents thereof by forestalling the critical benefits of that action."
"These benefits are real, and they will accrue day by day," the brief argues.
The Obama administration is seeking a ruling to allow the programs to move forward. The Justice Department filed an appeal last week asking the court to lift the injunction.
UPDATE: 3:45 p.m. -- Nearly every House Democrat -- 181 of them -- signed on to another amicus brief filed on Monday asking the appeals court to lift the preliminary injunction on Obama's immigration policies.
The House Democrats' amicus brief says that they "well understand the importance of ensuring that the executive does not exceed its constitutional or statutory authority." But it goes on to say that the lawmakers understand the executive has the authority to use its discretion in enforcing the law.
"The broad discretionary authority to set removal policies and priorities is both explicit and implicit in the Nation’s immigration laws and has been exercised also by prior Administrations of both parties in ways consistent with the Secretary’s actions," the brief states, referring to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
More than 150 civil rights and immigration advocacy groups also filed an amicus brief Monday in support of Obama's immigration policies.
The following cities and counties signed on to the amicus brief:
Central Falls, RI
Chapel Hill, NC
Coconino County, AZ
Dallas County, TX
El Paso County, TX
Highland Park, IL
Jersey City, NJ
Kansas City, MO
Little Rock, AR
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles County, CA
Lucas County, OH
Montgomery County, MD
New York, NY
Niagara Falls, NY
North Miami, FL
Ramsey County, MN
Salt Lake City, UT
San Francisco, CA
San Jose, CA
Santa Ana, CA
Santa Cruz County, AZ
Santa Fe, NM
Santa Monica, CA
St. Louis, MO
State College, PA
Travis County, TX
West Covina, CA
National League of Cities
U.S. Conference of Mayors