ROCHESTER, Minn. — Rochester is joining an effort to oppose the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA.
“Overall, I think trying to be good to humans,” Rochester City Council member Mark Bilderback said. “Trying to be nice to the human race is what we are all about, so I have no problem supporting this.”
DACA is a federal immigration policy created in 2012 with an executive order by President Barack Obama. It gives undocumented immigrants brought illegally into the U.S. as children the opportunity to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation.
In September 2017, President Donald Trump’s administration ended the program through an executive action but it has been challenged in court, with nine cases opposing the move to end the program.
The Rochester City Council held a special work-session vote on the issue Monday, Sept. 30, ahead of Tuesday's deadline to join a Los Angeles effort to oppose the change in the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to hear the matter later this month.
Council President Randy Staver said he opposed the council’s effort to engage in a federal issue without a defined remedy or specific discussion by the council.
“I just don’t want to get involved in that quagmire,” he said as the sole dissenter in a 5-1 vote.
Council member Shaun Palmer declined the chance to vote, saying he didn’t support engaging in an issue that has become a topic of partisan politics.
“This is a nonpartisan board, and that’s the way I’d like to keep it,” he said.
Council member Michael Wojcik said he doesn’t see the issue as partisan.
“To call something partisan that is humanitarian does a disservice for what the underlying values are,” he said.
The City Council’s decision will add the city’s name to a brief being sent to the Supreme Court.
In the council’s agenda, the brief was summarized as: “For the foregoing reasons, the September Memorandum undermines amici’s interests in fostering safe, prosperous communities where all individuals — including the hundreds of thousands of residents receiving deferred action under DACA — are given an opportunity to participate and grow. The courts below correctly decided that Petitioners’ decision to rescind DACA is reviewable and unlawful. Accordingly, the Court should affirm the judgments of the Ninth Circuit and the District Court for the District of Columbia, and the orders of the Eastern District of New York.”
Council member Nick Campion said he supports joining other cities and counties throughout the nation, but also cited skepticism that Rochester could sway a decision.
“Being totally blunt, (it) probably has somewhat limited impact on the eventual outcome at the federal level,” he said.