BROWNSVILLE, Texas (CN) - President Obama's decision not to deport some undocumented immigrants will "strengthen cities by keeping families together," 33 mayors, led by New York City's Bill de Blasio, claim in a legal brief.
The mayors filed their friend of the court brief in opposition to a lawsuit from 21 Republican states and four Republican governors, who are trying to stop Obama from implementing immigration policy changes.
Obama announced in November 2014 that for the remainder of his term he will not deport undocumented people who have lived in the United States since Jan. 1, 2010, who can pass background checks, and who entered as children or are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
Those who qualify may also be eligible for a federal work authorization card that includes their photograph, which would allow them to get a Social Security card and a driver's license.
With Texas leading the challenge, the states asked U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen for an injunction against the new policies, set to take effect in February and May.
In their Jan. 27 amicus brief, De Blasio and his fellow mayors claim they "have a compelling interest in opposing plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction" because the nation's cities are home to most of its estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.
The mayors cited the "classic American story" of four undocumented immigrants who found success in the United States, including Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, who worked as a farm laborer in California before night classes propelled him to the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard Medical School.
"Today, Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa is a world-renowned surgeon and professor of neurosurgery and oncology at Johns Hopkins University, where he performs around 250 brain operations per year while pursuing a cure for brain cancer," according to the brief.
The mayors also say undocumented immigrants fuel local economies and create jobs by opening small businesses.
The mayors say Obama's policy will improve public safety, as immigrants will no longer fear talking to the police.
Twenty-seven U.S. police chiefs filed an amicus brief stating the same thing.
The mayors focused on mixed-status families, in which some members are legal residents and fear that reporting a crime could lead to the deportation of a loved one.
"It is estimated that 85 percent of immigrants live in mixed-status families, making this a significant consideration," the mayors say in their 28-page brief.
Mayors signed on to the brief include Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, Annise Parker of Houston, Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C., and Rahm Emanuel of Chicago.
Judge Hanen, a President George W. Bush appointee, said he will not rule on the injunction request before Jan. 30.
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