Fresno will join more than 40 other cities across the country in a legal brief that supports three Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals cases going before the Supreme Court in November.
The Fresno City Council voted Thursday to be listed in the Amicus brief that supports the plaintiffs in the DACA cases. Gary Bredefeld was the only council member to vote against the resolution and argued the program isn’t legal because it was created by executive order, instead of Congress.
“I have tremendous sympathy for people who are here and didn’t come here of their own volition and are making their dreams come true, that’s what makes this country great,” he said. “But we either follow the laws or we don’t and picking and choosing isn’t the way to go and the fact is people are here illegally and we have to acknowledge that.”
Two years ago President Trump issued an order to wind down the Obama-era program that gives people brought to the U.S as children work permits and protection from deportation; the Supreme Court will decide if that’s lawful.
During public comment, DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, spoke in favor of the resolution, emphasizing how much anxiety and fear they have felt since the program’s existence came into question.
America Hernandez also spoke in favor of the resolution during a press conference on Wednesday and said DACA allowed her to get a job and buy a house. The program also gave her the opportunity to give back to the community instead of just trying to survive, she said.
Hernandez, who was brought to the U.S when she was 3 months old, said the anxiety she feels now that there is a threat to DACA, becomes debilitating sometimes. “A lot of nightmares at times, you know there is a lot of fear. What if I lose my home? What if I’m separated from my loved ones? What if I’m never able to come back to this country?”
Council member Mike Karbassi abstained from voting because he said it’s the federal government's job to weigh in on immigration issues.
“We need to change the precedent that we’re not going to weigh in on these national issues when we don’t have the authority to do that,” Karbassi said.
Council member Miguel Arias, who brought the resolution to the council, said the more than 5,000 people on DACA in Fresno would lose their jobs and wages if the program ends.
“It will be a direct and financial impact for our city so there is a correlation to local,” Arias said.
Councilmember Esmeralda Soria said it’s a moral issue, and it’s the responsibility of local leaders to stand with Dreamers because it will impact the community.
“We’ve invested in them through our public education system by providing them the services for them to be successful,” she said. “We can’t let the feds pull the plug and just stand still when we know that this issue is impacting us locally. This is an issue about people.”