Following post written by Cambridge City Councillor Leland Cheung
In March, I submitted a policy order that saw Cambridge stand with nearly 100 other cities nationwide in support of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. President Obama’s actions would allow for millions of immigrants in our communities to work legally in the United States without the ever pending threat of deportation.
I was proud to see Cambridge join cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta in submitting an amicus brief to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals asking for the Court to not delay implementation of the executive actions while the court reviewed it. Unfortunately, in spite of widespread public support, and the clear need for implementation of the actions without delay, the 5th Circuit Court has neither made a decision on the case, nor allowed for the President’s actions to take effect as we await their decision.
Thousands of families in Massachusetts are affected by the inaction of the court. As the son of immigrants, I identify with the stress many families feel about uncertain futures. Immigrants, be they undocumented or documented, are integral to the fabric of our communities. These same immigrants who some would demonize are business owners, taxpayers, students, parents, and grandparents. These individuals share our same hopes and dreams: a brighter future for themselves and their children.
Despite strong public support across the country, many hard-working immigrant families live with the constant threat of deportation. Our friend-of-the-court brief argued that the court failed to consider the significant harms to America’s local governments caused by the delay to implementing President Obama’s executive actions. Not only did the court reject our arguments, but they have also still failed to rule in the case. Because of the court’s cowardice and inaction, millions of lives are in limbo, and the strength of communities across America suffers.
A large basis of the arguments against support for immigrant families is the concern that they will “take American jobs.” I wonder if the court and those who propagate these arguments realize that the simplest, and most effective course of action would be to enable immigrants to be paid legally, require employers to provide the same prevailing wages and benefits as they do to documented employees, and report those earnings for taxes. Not only would this be the decent human approach, but it would also help to level the playing field for all workers.
The City of Cambridge has long prioritized a decent, humanizing approach for immigrants in our community, from adopting a sanctuary city ordinance, to establishing community organizations to serve immigrant youth. I have seen firsthand how Cambridge’s culture of inclusivity allows for our city to thrive. President Obama’s order takes an evenhanded approach to fixing our broken system, cracking down on criminals and instituting background checks, all while helping those who contribute to our communities come out of the shadows.
I believe that the President’s actions will help clear the path for every community in America to see their immigrant residents openly contribute and thrive. It is time for the court to uphold President Obama’s actions and stop standing in the way of progress.