tags: , , , Press Releases

Cities and Colleges Speak Out for Immigrants Against a Backdrop of Overwhelmingly Public Support for Legalization Over Deportation

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Washington, DC – In the face of Donald Trump’s pledge to end the DACA program for DREAMers and ramp up deportations of undocumented immigrants, leaders from cities and college campuses across the country are speaking up. They are defending the contributions and futures of immigrants and pledging to resist a Trump Administration’s push to apprehend and deport members of their communities.

The vocal, pro-immigrant support from city and college leaders reflects the views of the vast majority of Americans. By a consistent 3:1 to 4:1 margin, the American public overwhelmingly favors policies that provide a path to legalization and citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Below, we highlight recent comments and pro-immigrant support from city and college leaders, followed by a recap of recent polling.

A New York Times story by Jennifer Medina and Jess Bidgood,“Cities Vow to Fight Trump on Immigration, Even if They Lose Millions,” highlights how leaders in major cities across America are “gearing up to oppose President-elect Donald J. Trump if he follows through on a campaign promise to deport millions of illegal immigrants. They are promising to maintain their policies of limiting local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration agents”:

“[A]s Mr. Trump prepares to take office, Democratic bastions, including Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco, have reaffirmed plans to defy the administration and act as a kind of bulwark against mass deportations.

‘I like to compare this to conscientious objector status,’ said Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland, Calif. ‘We are not going to use our resources to enforce what we believe are unjust immigration laws.’

…Cities ‘may not have the power to give people rights,’ said Muzaffar Chishti, the director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at the New York University School of Law. ‘But they have a lot of power of resistance, and that’s what they’re displaying right now.’

…More than 500 counties and cities have some kind of policy limiting cooperation with the immigration authorities, according to an estimate from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, an advocacy and legal assistance group in San Francisco and Washington.

In Oakland, a city that was a site of resistance a generation ago, Ms. Schaaf has no doubt that the community will again marshal its resources to help undocumented immigrants. The city is exploring ways to offer legal services to immigrants. ‘We do have many undocumented immigrants, but often these are residents who came to our city as toddlers — they have grown up here and gone to our public schools,’ Ms. Schaaf said. ‘These are not illegal aliens, they are friends’ children, people sitting next to us in our church pews and on the bus. Here it feels much more personal.’”

A Washington Post article by Nick Anderson, “Hundreds of colleges mobilize to defend immigrant students,” notes that, “Hundreds of college and university leaders have mobilized in recent days to defend students who immigrated to the United States as children, without legal permission, and now face a swirl of questions about their future under President-elect Donald Trump.” The piece quotes several university leaders, including:

Angel Cabrera, President of George Mason University: “The Mason DACA community includes some of our most accomplished students. They have excelled both inside and outside of the classroom … We hope that the new administration recognizes the value of these students to our community and to the nation,” he wrote. “They are filled with talent and promise and, if given the chance, will surely contribute significantly to the good of the United States, which is the only home that most of them have ever known.”

…Wallace Loh, President of the University of Maryland at College Park: “I have a strong and unequivocal personal commitment to protect all of our students, including those who attend our university under the Dream Act and DACA … The job of any president is to provide an education for every student and I will be working with my colleagues, both in Maryland and across the country, on how we can best protect the legal standing of these outstanding students, and let them continue with their transformative education.”

…John H. Coatsworth, Columbia University provost: [Columbia] “will neither allow immigration officials on our campuses without a warrant, nor share information on the immigration status of undocumented students with those officials unless required by subpoena or court order, or authorized by a student.”

Despite Trump’s election by virtue of the Electoral College, the American public remains overwhelmingly in favor of a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants over deportation. In fact, public support for legalization is now at an all-time high in many polls. As the Washington Post highlighted before the election, Trump’s nativism actually is “increasing sympathy for immigrants and depressing support for his harsh enforcement techniques.”

Among the recent polls:

The latest Quinnipiac poll (post-election) found that, by a combined 72-25% margin, Americans support policies allowing undocumented immigrants to stay rather than be required to leave the U.S. (60% support a pathway to citizenship, 12% support legalization short of citizenship, and 25% say they should leave). Of note, the 60% support for citizenship and the combined 72% for “stay” are each record highs in the four years Quinnipiac has asked the question, while the 25% support for “required to leave” is tied for the record low (see trendline here).

Pew Research found in a late October poll that Americans support a policy that allows undocumented immigrants to stay legally over a policy that does not by a 4:1 margin – 80-18%. Of the 11 times Pew has asked the same question over the years, support has never been higher for legalization (80%) or lower for deportation (18%).

The New York Times/CBS; the Washington Post/ABC News;CNN; Gallup; and even Fox News have found similar levels of support for legalization, ranging from a high of 88% to a low of 74%.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The vast majority of Americans recognize that undocumented immigrants and their families are Americans in all but paperwork. Trump and his nativist base may make a lot of noise, but they can’t count on a lot of support. On the other hand, when mayors and university presidents rally to the cause of suddenly vulnerable immigrants, they stand with the American people. Should Trump attempt to implement his radical strategies of subjecting Dreamers and millions of others to deportation, he should expect a mighty backlash.”

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice

America’s Voice – Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform