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City Council backs DACA & TPS protection resolution

By Brendan Clogston

After a two-week procedural delay and months of public pressure, the City Council overwhelmingly passed a resolution in support of the city’s immigrant community on Monday night, calling on Congress to restore legal status to those formerly covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs in an 8-1 vote. For months, members of the city’s immigrant communities and their supporters have spoken during the public participation portion of the council’s meetings, urging the city’s leaders to take a stand as the immigration programs relied on by their parents, their friends or they themselves have been rolled back or revoked by the Trump administration.

Chief among those programs are TPS and DACA. Immigrants under TPS from several countries, namely Nicaragua and Honduras, have had their status stripped under the Trump administration. Despite an 18-month delay, thousands of Haitians who fled the 2010 earthquake will lose their TPS status soon, and many fear that El Salvador will be next. DACA, an Obama-era program rescinded by the Trump administration in June, allowed some individuals who entered the country as minors to remain legally and receive work permits.

During Monday’s meeting among the speakers was Karen Flores, a sophomore at EHS. Flores has lived in Everett her entire life, but her parents come from El Salvador. “Everybody I know who are immigrants and have parents who don’t have stable documents are scared that one day they’ll come home and their parents won’t be there, or that one day they’re going to be sent off to a place that’s no longer their home, because this is their home,” said Flores.

Joel Rodriguez, an 18-year-old Pioneer Charter School of Science graduate and LaSalle College freshman, also spoke in support of the resolution. Rodriguez’s parents are also from El Salvador, and when his grandfather passed away recently, the uncertainty surrounding his father’s immigration prevented the family from traveling to Belize to attend his funeral. “All of my father’s side of the family are there and need his support, but because of my father’s status he will not be able to say his final goodbye to his father,” said Rodriguez. “As his son, this makes me feel very devastated. Imagine trying to console a weeping man to tell him that everything’s going to be better, but you know that not being able to say goodbye to your father will always linger in your mind and have an effect.”

Councillors – who initially intended to pass the resolution last week before discovering that one of their rules required the matter go before their Legislative Affairs Committee, thus delaying the vote for two weeks – were largely supportive of the speakers and the resolution.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought that people would be living in our community [who] would be afraid,” said Councillor-at-Large Peter Napolitano. “And what are they afraid of? They’re afraid of the rhetoric that’s coming out of the White House. What is that we’re fearful of from these people? They’re hard workers, they’re taxpayers, many are citizens through their families. It’s just ridiculous that we’ve come to this point. There are no differences here, and there shouldn’t be any differences here. These people live here; they’ve chosen to make Everett their home, the same as many of our families have in the past.”

“It’s an honor to be able to take this vote in support of the families of Everett,” said Ward 6 Councillor Michael McLaughlin. “I hope and pray that this will go very far and will be able to make an impact in a positive manner. … It’s the job that we’re elected to do and will continue to do to protect every resident of the city of Everett, no matter their status.”

Ward 2 Stephen Simonelli was the lone nay vote. He stated that “we have to take care of our own first [and] keep Everett Everett.”

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