WASHINGTON -- A group of mayors led by New York's Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles' Eric Garcetti are coming to the defense of President Barack Obama on immigration.
Twenty-eight mayors have signed on to file an amicus brief this coming Monday in support of Obama's recent executive actions on immigration, which are currently the target of a lawsuit from 25 states, led by Texas. The suit aims to block the president's deportation relief policies that will apply to some undocumented young people as well as undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents -- specifically, allowing them to stay in the country and work legally. Republicans in Congress are likewise seeking to block the programs.
During remarks at the United States Conference of Mayors meeting on Friday, de Blasio said that the coalition of mayors wants to "support our president who, as we all know, is under attack on this issue."
"We think it is crucial that when the administration is trying to help us address these core issues and they come under attack, that mayors stand up and say, 'No, in fact the executive action will help our people and we think it's crucial to move forward,'" he said.
The states' lawsuit contends that Obama overstepped his presidential power in a manner that violates the U.S. Constitution, and that his actions will "exacerbate the humanitarian crisis along the southern border, which will affect increased state investment in law enforcement, health care and education."
The first hearing on the lawsuit took place last week at a U.S. district court in Brownsville, Texas. Attorneys for the states argued that Obama's executive actions should be blocked pending a decision on their legality.
The Obama administration has argued that the president's policies fit within his legal authority under the principle of prosecutorial discretion, because they will allow immigration authorities to focus on deporting people deemed a higher priority, such as criminals, national security risks and people who have more recently crossed the border.
Obama is backed by a dozen states and the District of Columbia, all of which filed an amicus brief earlier this month in support of the executive actions on immigration. The states in that brief were California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, along with the District of Columbia. Their amicus brief argues that the policies are legal and will have a positive impact.
The mayors' defense will be similar, arguing that Obama's executive actions serve the public interest, according to a press release from de Blasio's office. They will ask that the policies be allowed to move forward despite the lawsuit against them. Along with de Blasio and Garcetti, mayors from Washington, D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Francisco and St. Louis were among those who signed on.
"Our cities cannot afford delays to immigration reforms that will strengthen our economy and help families," Garcetti said in a statement. "This isn’t a blue or red issue, but a human and economic one."
The amicus brief comes after a summit de Blasio hosted last month to discuss implementation of Obama's executive actions.
Nisha Agarwal, New York's commissioner of immigrant affairs, told The Huffington Post in an interview Friday that the executive actions will help cities because people will get work authorization and become more economically productive. She also said that undocumented immigrants may be more likely to report crimes to police if they are no longer afraid it could lead to them being deported.
"From the perspective of cities, this next round of executive action, both for the kids and for their parents, is potentially transformative," said Agarwal. "It's not the long-term reform we all need, but it will be hugely important for us and for our cities economically and in terms of public safety."
Here's the full list of mayors, according to a press release:
The following Mayors have signed on to the amicus brief:
Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York, New York
Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles, California
Mayor Kasim Reed, Atlanta, Georgia
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore, Maryland
Mayor Byron Browm, Buffalo, New York
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago, Illinois
Mayor Steve Benjamin, Columbia, South Carolina
Mayor Nan Whaley, Dayton, Ohio
Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver, Colorado
Mayor Muriel Bowser, Washington, D.C.
Mayor Pedro Segarra, Hartford, Connecticut
Mayor Annise Parker, Houston, Texas
Mayor Steven Fulop, Jersey City, New Jersey
Mayor Paul Soglin, Madison, Wisconsin
Mayor Ras Baraka, Newark, New Jersey
Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mayor Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Mayor Charles Hales, Portland, Oregon
Mayor John Dickert, Racine, Wisconsin
Mayor Tom Butt, Richmond, California
Mayor Lovely Warren, Rochester, New York
Mayor Ralph Becker, Salt Lake City, Utah
Mayor Ed Lee, San Francisco, California
Mayor Gary McCarthy, Schenectady, New York
Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle, Washington
Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis, Missouri
Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Tacoma, Washington
Mayor Mike Spano, Yonkers, New York
The following mayors have expressed their support and will sign on to the brief, pending final local approvals:
Mayor Karen Majewski, Hamtramck, Michigan
Mayor Virg Bernero, Lansing, Michigan
Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Mayor Betsy Hodges, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mayor Greg Stanton, Phoenix, Arizona