Listening to the Mayors

Alan Jenkins

By and large, mayors are pragmatists. They’ve got snow to remove and potholes to fill, schools to run and crime to fight. Literally and figuratively, they must keep the trains running on time, or hear loudly and decisively from voters and constituents.

That pragmatic spirit was evident on Monday, when the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution condemning Arizona’s anti-immigrant law and calling on the Federal government to quickly pass commonsense immigration reform. The resolution criticises the Arizona law as “unconstitutional and un-American,” calls for its repeal, and opposes any copycat legislation in other parts of the country.

The mayors’ criticism of the Arizona law is warranted, because the law encourages targeting of people, including citizens and lawful residents, based on the color of their skin and their appearance. It violates the basic human right to fair and equal treatment in law enforcement and our justice system. And in more practical terms, it will discourage people from reporting crimes or suspicious circumstances and divert law enforcement resources away from addressing serious crime.

The mayors’ call for national immigration reform is equally important, and it reflects their pragmatic approach. The non-partisan Conference has for some time sought reform that includes: “Increased border security and enforcement; the protection of human and civil rights of both citizens and non-citizens being detained; more support for city and state governments which are disproportionately shouldering the costs of the current broken immigration system; the use of new technologies to match up foreign workers with jobs in this country that are going unfilled (guest worker program); [and] the elimination of current obstacles to citizenship that have resulted in 10-12 million undocumented residents living in the shadows.”

The mayor’s resolution is an act of pragmatic, non-partisan, and moral leadership that our country desperately needs right now. It’s a call for workable solutions on immigration that uphold our nation’s values and move us forward to gether. Let’s hope that our leaders in Washington respond to that call.

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