Mayors of NYC, LA, Chicago, Baltimore and others who are part of Cities United For Immigration Action Coalition issue letter to Obama Administration
In address to Congress, Pope Francis calls on U.S. to address migrant crisis "in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal"
WASHINGTON - On the same day Pope Francis called for the acceptance of immigrants, a group of 18 mayors from across the country, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and others have joined forces to call on President Obama to welcome additional refugees beyond the number his administration has agreed to accept.
The mayors who have signed today's letter to President Obama are part of Cities United For Immigration Action, a coalition of nearly 100 cities and counties that is leading the effort to promote and execute immigration reforms nationwide.
“New York has always been a place where the American Dream has come to life for generations of immigrants from around the globe. For the thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing the nightmare of oppression, in search of safety, stability, and salvation, we say welcome. As the Pope visits New York this week, we are reminded that the answer to the age-old question, ‘am I my brothers keeper’ must be a resounding yes if we are to live up to the values on which our nation was founded and our future depends,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
"We are certainly supportive of refugees from Syria coming to Baltimore; this speaks to our deepest values as Americans. Baltimore City has been and will continue to be a beacon of freedom and opportunity for refugees seeking a home to grow and prosper," said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
"The global refugee crisis brings with it a responsibility and opportunity to welcome those seeking exile from tyranny and oppression. People who are so committed to finding freedom and building a brighter life for their family that they leave behind all they realized--material positions, university degrees, family photos--and are willing to risk it all. This is where our responsibility to our fellow man is tested. This is also an opportunity for a city like Pittsburgh, with a great network of service providers and a community urging us to act, to say to refugees seeking a new, safe homeland where they can set roots: Pittsburgh welcomes you. Together, we will build an even stronger Pittsburgh, and we welcome the minds and hearts of those fleeing the crisis to join us," said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto.
"Hartford stands by the president's decision to shelter families and children escaping war in Syria. Showing compassion and providing hope to the afflicted is part of our national identity, as well as our humanitarian responsibility," said Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra, co-chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Immigration Reform Task Force.
"In accepting refugees from Syria, the United States is recognizing the basic humanity of these men, women, and children. It is important we make policies that honor the dignity of all people. Bringing Syrian refugees to our shores is line with our history of accepting the famous 'huddled masses yearning to breathe free' and it is in line with the best of what we hope to be as a nation," said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner.
“St. Louis is a welcoming community, as demonstrated by the thousands of Bosnian refugees who sought a better life here in the 1990s. They have built businesses, created jobs, rehabbed homes, and revitalized neighborhoods. They have become part of the fabric of our community, welcomed and supported by their fellow St. Louisans. While the number of Syrians we can welcome in the next two years depends largely on the federal government, St. Louis is again ready and willing to help. Our diverse religious organizations are already contacting the International Institute to help in resettlement. To date, St. Louis proudly has welcomed 29 Syrian refugees to our City, and we expect 20 more to arrive in the coming months. With the cap now increased, I am certain we will be welcoming several more,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay.
The full text of the mayors' letter is below:
Dear President Obama:
We commend your decision to open America’s doors to at least 10,000 Syrian refugees displaced by civil war, and applaud your commitment to increase the overall number of refugees the U.S. will resettle over the course of the next two years. This announcement is a vital initial step to honoring America’s commitment to support those fleeing oppression.
As the mayors of cities across the country, we see first-hand the myriad ways in which immigrants and refugees make our communities stronger economically, socially and culturally. We will welcome the Syrian families to make homes and new lives in our cities. Indeed, we are writing to say that we stand ready to work with your Administration to do much more and to urge you to increase still further the number of Syrian refugees the United States will accept for resettlement. The surge of humanity fleeing war and famine is the largest refugee crisis since World War II. The United States is in a position to lead a global narrative of inclusion and support. This is a challenge we can meet, and the undersigned mayors stand ready to help you meet it.
Our cities have been transformed by the skills and the spirit of those who come to us from around the world. The drive and enterprise of immigrants and refugees have helped build our economies, enliven our arts and culture, and enrich our neighborhoods.
We have taken in refugees, and will help make room for thousands more. This is because the United States has developed a robust screening and background check that assures us that we know who we are welcoming into this country. With national security systems in place, we stand ready to support the Administration in increasing the numbers of refugees we can accept.
With Pope Francis’ visit, we are mindful of his call for greater compassion in the face of this ongoing crisis and stand with you in supporting those “journeying towards the hope of life.”
Ed Pawlowski, Mayor of Allentown, PA
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore, MD
Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston, MA
James Diossa, Mayor of Central Falls, RI
Mark Kleinschmidt, Mayor of Chapel Hill, NC
Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago, IL
Edward Terry, Mayor of Clarkston, GA
Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton, OH
Domenick Stampone, Mayor of Haledon, NJ
Pedro E. Segarra, Mayor of Hartford, CT
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, CA
Betsy Hodges, Mayor of Minneapolis, MN
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, NY
Jose Torres, Mayor of Paterson, NJ
William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh, PA
Javier Gonzales, Mayor of Santa Fe, NM
Francis G. Slay, Mayor of St. Louis, MO
Stephanie A. Miner, Mayor of Syracuse, NY