President-elect Donald Trump expressed his intention to begin deporting illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds when he takes office during an interview with “60 Minutes” shortly after the election.
His additional statement that his focus isn't on the “amazing,” hard-working illegal immigrants didn't seem to ease any worried minds.
Democratic leaders and DREAMer advocates have made repeated attempts to get President Barack Obama to guarantee protection to undocumented immigrants.
In response to a previous letter, the White House said that a presidential pardon cannot grant legal status to immigrants - only Congress can do that.
However, that didn't stop Mayor Bill de Blasio and 30 other city and county leaders from penning an open letter to the president.
After praising Obama's work on behalf of illegal immigrants, the letter highlighted why the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is important:
“DACA has tremendously benefitted our communities by helping our residents thrive and contribute in myriad ways.”
As part of the Cities for Action coalition, the letter asked the president to grant a two-year extension to some 740,000 participants in the DACA program. The letter said:
“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.”
DACA participants underwent thorough criminal background checks and are young adults who have proven a current working or student status.
But, sanctuary city leaders urged for protection that would extend further than just the DREAMers. The letter made a second appeal to the president:
“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.”
Thirdly, they vaguely requested that President Obama protect the information of the participants so that Trump can't use it in the event he decides to follow through on his deportation plans.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the letter and have all passed resolutions to keep their “sanctuary city” status.
During his first 100 days, Donald Trump has every intention of penalizing sanctuary cities as part of his immigration plan. At a rally in August, he said:
“Block funding for sanctuary cities...no more funding. We will end the sanctuary cities that have resulted in so many needless deaths.. Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars, and we will work with Congress to pass legislation to protect those jurisdictions that do assist federal authorities.”
Sanctuary cities act as a safe haven for illegal immigrants and prevent law enforcement from holding undocumented immigrants while they wait for immigration officials.
These “safe havens” have come under fire after Kathryn Steinle was shot and killed in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant who had previously been deported five times.
The White House has not commented on whether or not Obama will use his final days in office issuing protection for illegal immigrants.