Philadelphia Joins 30 Cities in Calls for President Obama to Continue his Administration’s Support for Immigrant Communities as he Leaves Office

WASHINGTON – Today, Philadelphia joined 30 members of Cities for Action, a coalition of over 100 mayors and county executives from across the country, in issuing 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 executives 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.

“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 Mayor Jim Kenney.

Mayor Kenney and the City of Philadelphia have joined Cities for Action in additional open letters to the Obama Administration and U.S. Congress over the past year in support for better immigration policies and protections for refugees.

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

December 31, 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

Marty Walsh, Mayor of Boston, MA

Lydia Lavelle, Mayor of Carrboro, NC

Albert Robles, Mayor of Carson, CA

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

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