For immediate release: December 29, 2016
Contact: [email protected]  |  @citiesforaction 



31 Mayors and County Executives Issue Letter to President Obama, Thanking Him for His Administration’s Support for Immigrant Families and Proposing Additional Steps Before He Leaves Office


WASHINGTON – Today, 31 members of Cities for Action, a coalition of over 100 mayors and county executives from across the country, issued an open letter to President Obama, thanking him for his Administration’s support for immigrant families and urging him to commit to further protections for the many immigrants in their communities before he leaves office.

In this letter, local leaders recommend that the Obama Administration take the following steps:

  • Strengthen support for young immigrants with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) by accepting early DACA renewal applications; committing to timely processing by USCIS for initial and renewal DACA applications; and implementing additional privacy protections for DACA holders to reassure recipients that they will not be punished as a result of coming out of the shadows.
  • Support immigrants who cannot safely return to their home countries due to conflict, natural disaster or other emergency conditions by reviewing current Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations and extending, re-designating, or making new designations as appropriate; and committing to timely processing by USCIS for TPS applications.

The mayors and county executive also thank the President for responding to concerns raised by coalition members, among others, about the failed, discriminatory National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) program, which created a “special registration” for immigrants from 25 primarily Muslim-majority countries. Representatives from a number of cities spoke with White House officials earlier this month and urged the Administration to end NSEERS and continue protections for immigrants with DACA and TPS. Cities for Action now commends the President for ending NSEERS. 

“Our immigrant residents help make New York City stronger economically, culturally, and socially. We have benefited from President Obama’s actions to protect vulnerable immigrants during his time in office. In the wake of the election, many of our residents are uncertain about the future. That’s why I am standing with my fellow mayors to thank the President for his leadership and call on him to take additional, lawful steps to help immigrants before leaving office,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“As Mayor of Austin – as well as a former national board member of the Anti-Defamation League – I am proud that America cannot and will not use its power to persecute people based on their religion. In fact, I always thought that truth was self-evident,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler.

“Immigrants play such an integral role in our cities. Boston is a place of inclusion, a city of compassion, a welcoming, diverse city. We’ll stay that way and I hope the federal government will support us in that. I thank President Obama and his administration for all they’ve done already, and I look forward to more steps being taken to protect our immigrant families,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

“Our diversity has always been the strength of the United States – both ethnic and religious. While at times in America’s history she has not always lived up to her own ideals, today it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we continue to march forward in fulfillment of the DREAM that one day soon, everyone in America will be judged by their individual character and not their ethnicity nor their religion.  Unless we fight for this universal truth, not only is the DREAM at risk, but our very existence as Americans is as well,” said Carson Mayor Albert Robles.

“As a nation, we are strongest when the safety we seek is supported by the values and freedoms we cherish,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “We must stand up against practices that demonize someone based on their faith, race, background or sexual orientation, and instead promote tolerance and inclusion. The reversal of this discriminatory practice is an important step forward, and I want to thank the President for taking this action.”

“I appreciate President Obama’s action on NSEERS, which will help reassure Muslim residents in cities like Knoxville that they will be treated with fairness and respect by all levels of government,” said Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero.

“Immigrant communities have always been crucial to the social and economic fabric of our City,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “We commend President Obama for ending the NSEERS program – and we urge him to continue to do all he can during the final days of his administration to also protect DACA and TPS recipients in order to keep all our residents safe in Los Angeles and throughout our Country.”

“As a welcoming community, Montgomery County, Maryland has become a magnet for talented people from every corner of the globe. We know having people who understand nearly every culture and speak nearly every language is our edge in the global marketplace of the 21st century. We are working hard every day to make sure that the individuals and families that make up our diverse population of more than one million people feel safe and have the resources they need to thrive,” said Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett.

“I am proud to stand with my fellow Mayors and take action to show our support of immigrant and refugee communities in all our cities.  I am happy to see the White House taking steps to protect those who are vulnerable and urge that more steps are taken to protect Dreamers and those with Temporary Protected Status,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

“We applaud President Obama and his staff for listening to our communities’ concerns, and for taking action to dismantle the failed and discriminatory NSEERS program,” said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. “We urge the Administration to continue to do everything in its power to protect DACA recipients and TPS holders so that our country remains a safe place for our most vulnerable residents.”

“Our first job as mayors is to protect our people.  All our people,” said Racine Mayor John Dickert.

“I applaud President Obama’s decision to dismantle a program that would allow the next administration to target and discriminate against immigrants and refugees in the United States,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “Cities are standing up and speaking out against hate and discrimination directed at our immigrant and Muslim communities and the President’s decision supports our actions. We will not stop standing with our communities under the next administration.”

“Cities are committed to doing the right thing for our immigrant and refugee populations. These individuals bring vibrancy to our neighborhoods and the entrepreneurs fueling economic growth. They are involved parents in our schools and active members of our communities. We will always do our part in ensuring they feel welcome in our cities and have the support needed to be successful, contributing New Americans,” said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner.

The mayors and county executive who signed today’s letter are part of Cities for Action, a coalition of over 100 cities and counties leading the effort to advance immigration reform and welcome new immigrants. More information about Cities for Action is available at www.citiesforaction.us


Below is the full text of the letter from Cities for Action:


December 29, 2016


Dear President Obama:

As mayors and county executives in the Cities for Action coalition, we write to thank you for your leadership on behalf of immigrant families and urge you to take action to ensure continued support for vulnerable immigrants in our communities before you leave office. 

Cities for Action is a national coalition of over 100 mayors and county executives that advocates for inclusive local policies and national immigration reform. As local government leaders throughout the country, we know that immigrants make our communities stronger economically, culturally, and socially. For this reason, we have enthusiastically embraced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, expressed repeated support for and defense of your 2014 executive actions on immigration, and worked closely with your administration to promote citizenship and the economic, social, and civic integration of immigrants.   

On behalf of millions of our immigrant residents and their families, we thank you for the steps your administration has taken to support vulnerable immigrant populations, from bright young people who may only know life in this country, to immigrants who cannot return to their home countries because of conflict or natural disaster, as well as those who look to the U.S. to lead on human rights and non-discrimination. These actions reflect the ideals of inclusion and refuge that our country is founded on.

We also thank you for listening to concerns from local leaders, among other voices, and taking steps this week to end the failed National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) program. This “special registration” program was discriminatory and created great fear and turmoil within our communities, particularly among Muslim immigrants, while not providing any increase in security. A revival of the program would only serve to heighten tensions and increase the risk of bias-based crimes at a time when hate speech and hate crimes are on the rise. For these reasons, we commend your Administration for this move.    

We urge that you continue your support for immigrant communities in the last few weeks of your presidency. Specifically, we suggest that your administration  (1) continue support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and (2) continue support for immigrants who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

First, we encourage you to undertake steps to support the over 740,000 DACA recipients in the U.S. DACA has tremendously benefitted our communities by helping our residents thrive and contribute in myriad ways. For this reason, we are committed to advocating for the continuation of DACA in the next administration and for legislative relief for Dreamers in Congress. In the meantime, we call upon your administration to accept early renewal applications for current DACA holders to extend temporary protections for them. In addition, we urge USCIS to commit to speedy processing of initial and renewal applications and urge your administration to implement additional privacy protections for DACA holders to reassure recipients that they will not be punished as a result of coming out of the shadows.

Second, we urge you to extend protections for immigrants who cannot return safely to their countries of origin because of extraordinary conditions, including natural disasters or armed conflict. Cities for Action has applauded the steps that your administration has taken to grant temporary relief to these individuals. We now ask that your administration continues this urgent form of humanitarian protection by reviewing the current TPS designations and extending such designations or making re-designations or new designations as appropriate before the end of your term. In particular, we urge your administration to take steps to protect immigrants from countries that recently experienced extraordinary conditions that have made return unsafe, including Haiti and Ecuador. We also ask that USCIS commit to swift processing for TPS applications and re-registrations.

Thank you again for the many positive actions you have undertaken as President on behalf of immigrants in our communities, and we hope that you will consider these recommendations.


Ed Pawlowski. Mayor of Allentown, PA
Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin, TX
Catherine Pugh, Mayor of Baltimore, MD    
William Bell, Mayor of Birmingham, AL      
Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston, MA
Lydia Lavelle, Mayor of Carrboro, NC         
Albert Robles, Mayor of Carson, CA
James A. Diossa, Mayor of Central Falls, RI
Pam Hemminger, Mayor of Chapel Hill, NC
Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago, IL         
Michael Hancock, Mayor of Denver, CO    
Roy D. Buol, Mayor of Dubuque, IA          
Svante Myrick, Mayor of Ithaca, NY
Madeline Rogero, Mayor of Knoxville, TN
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, CA
Paul Soglin, Mayor of Madison, WI  
Manuel Cantu, Mayor of McFarland, CA    
Ike Leggett, Executive of Montgomery County, MD          
Yxstian Gutierrez, Mayor of Moreno Valley, CA
Toni Harp, Mayor of New Haven, CT          
Noam Bramson, Mayor of New Rochelle, NY        
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, NY          
Jim Kenney, Mayor of Philadelphia, PA      
Liz Lempert, Mayor of Princeton, NJ
Jorge Elorza, Mayor of Providence, RI        
John Dickert, Mayor of Racine, WI  
Tom Butt, Mayor of Richmond, CA
Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, CA  
Ed Lee, Mayor of San Francisco, CA          
Ed Murray, Mayor of Seattle, WA    
Francis Slay, Mayor of St. Louis, MO
Stephanie Miner, Mayor of Syracuse, NY