LA and Anaheim mayors call for immigration reform as Trump and ICE bear down

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and dozens of their counterparts from around the country joined forces Tuesday to call on Congress and President Donald Trump to fix a “broken” immigration system and pass a comprehensive overhaul of how people are granted entry into the United States.

The concerted effort by mayors to call for immigration reform and conduct a “day of action” in support of undocumented immigrants came one day after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials took their own action in targeting “noncooperative” cities. 

The agency released its inaugural weekly report on cities or agencies that have rejected federal immigration detainer requests to hold people in local jails past their release dates. The report, which mentioned detainers that appeared to have been issued and rejected at Los Angeles and Anaheim jails, was prompted by an executive order signed by Trump in January.

During a teleconference Tuesday to discuss the mayors’ “day of action,” Garcetti compared the ICE report with an attempt to pin a “scarlet letter” on cities and law enforcement agencies and said it was “destructive” to collaborative relationships between local and federal governments.



• RELATED STORY: ICE puts LA jails on ‘non-cooperative’ list for refusing to hold immigrants

Tom Cochran, executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said Tuesday that the group has “serious concerns” about ICE’s report, including questions about the assertion that the cities listed are “in noncompliance” when they do not honor federal detainer requests, which are often seen as voluntary by local law enforcement agencies.

Several mayors highlighted their individual cities’ efforts to help immigrants and to press for federal immigration reform during the teleconference, which was on the Cities’ Day of Immigration Action organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Garcetti, chairman of the group’s Latino Alliance.

Anaheim’s Tait, a Republican, said he and Democratic mayors such as Jorge Elorza of Providence, Rhode Island, are making a bipartisan push for the federal government to fix the nation’s immigration system.

“(Mayors) are closest to the issue,” said Tait, who co-chairs an immigration reform task force with Elorza in the U.S. Conference of Mayors. 

As cities work to “keep people safe, and we protect their rights,” Tait said, “we have a broken system we have to work around.”

Chris Alexakis