ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council unanimously threw its support behind the growing movement to urge Congress to act on behalf of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who face deportation if the government doesn’t continue a key Obama-administration immigration policy.
The City Council voted 5-0 to approve a resolution to call on Congress to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, and to provide program recipients with a pathway to permanent residence and, eventually, citizenship.
The DACA program, implemented by executive order in 2012 for eligible immigrants who were brought to this country without proper documentation when they were children, protects recipients from deportation and provides them with a work permit for two years, subject to renewal.
To be eligible for the DACA program, some of the requirements for applicants include having entered the United States prior to the age of 16; being enrolled in school; having earned a high school diploma or its equivalent; or having been honorably discharged from the military.
As of March 2017, about 887,000 individuals had applied for DACA and 788,000 applications had been approved. According to the Pew Research Center, 222,795 DACA recipients — roughly one-fourth of the program’s total — live in California.
President Donald Trump in September announced the program would be discontinued in March 2018 absent Congressional legislation to formally create or replace the program.
Immigration experts said that the announcement has caused panic and distress among DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrants, discouraging some from attending school.
Since then, immigration advocates, the ACLU, legislative allies and others have rallied to press Congress to adopt legislation. Locally, cities, school districts and community college districts have passed similar resolutions to the one Encinitas adopted at its Nov. 29 council meeting.
“The DACA program affects the economy and local families,” said Mayor Catherine Blakespear, who asked that the resolution be placed on the agenda. “Cancellation of the program will needlessly cause tremendous suffering to innocent, productive, hardworking people who are our neighbors, friends and family. We all need to apply pressure to our elected officials at the federal level to get this done.”
Councilman Mark Muir, who eventually supported the resolution, requested that it be amended to include a statement in opposition of sanctuary cities. None of his fellow council members supported the request.