By Mary Salas
In Chula Vista, immigration is a very local issue, but for me, it is also a personal one.
My grandparents immigrated to Chula Vista from Mexico nearly 100 years ago, fleeing the political turmoil in Mexico and seeking a better life for their family. In my office I proudly hang pictures of my father and his six brothers who served in World War II and the Korean conflict to remind me of the great contributions that my family, like so many other immigrant families, have made for our great nation.
As mayor of Chula Vista, I have witnessed the strong work ethic of immigrant families from all corners of the Earth that has made our city vibrant, dynamic and diverse. Chula Vista is uniquely positioned at the crossroads of trade, known as the CaliBaja Binational Mega-Region. It has been the economic, social and cultural contributions of immigrants from many parts of the world that have strengthened the foundation of Chula Vista and have provided our city with the vigor to be a leading force in this important region.
I have also witnessed firsthand some of the challenges that immigrants in our communities face. I have listened to the stories of families being torn apart by deportation, and am aware that we have longtime residents who live with fear. That is why I applauded President Obama last November when he announced the approval of the Deferred Action for Parents of American Citizens and legal permanent residents (DAPA) program as well as the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
The DAPA program was initially scheduled to begin today, May 19th.
DAPA and the extended DACA, would have provided relief for many of San Diego’s parents and youth who have longstanding ties to the United States. Unfortunately, these programs are temporarily on hold due to the ruling of a Texas judge. The federal government is seeking to overturn that ruling at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming that the benefits of the programs are too great to stop it from moving forward.
The benefits do not only apply to hard working families who are already part of our communities, but will move us all forward together.
A recent report from the North American Integration Development Center at UCLA found that the new policies would generate $3.8 billion in taxes and create nearly 72,000 jobs in California alone. With San Diego County having the 7th largest population of immigrants eligible for DACA and DAPA, the impact would also be felt at home. In a time when many local cities have struggled with cutbacks, we should be welcoming a policy that would not only keep families together, but would be of benefit to us all.
We are confident that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will see past politics and allow the immigration order to move forward, but it must not end there. Local governments have done our part. Our leaders in Congress now need to do theirs and fix the broken and inhumane immigration system for the long term and for the benefit of the nation.
Mary Salas is the Mayor of the City of Chula Vista