YAKIMA, Wash. -- The Yakima City Council has solidified its plans to support Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
The council unanimously passed a motion during its Tuesday meeting to send a letter of support for DACA to President Donald Trump. The vote followed a brief discussion on the letter’s possible partisan leanings.
The DACA program allows a two-year reprieve from potential deportation for youths who were brought into the country before age 16; have a high school diploma, GED or are in school; and have not committed any felonies, among others. The program, which has some 17,000 enrollees in Washington, also makes “Dreamers,” as they’re often called, eligible for work authorization.
“It’s extremely important that as a leading agricultural region with an immigrant-based labor force that we support DACA because it’s important for our local economy and our family structures,” said Councilwoman Dulce Gutierrez, who co-sponsored the letter with Mayor Kathy Coffey.
The letter reads, in part, “DACA provides the descendants of the very people who have contributed so enormously to establishing Yakima as a global agricultural force a legitimate and genuine chance to realize their American dreams.”
The letter will be edited to remove paragraphs one, two and nine before coming back for the council’s review at its next meeting, after which it will be sent to Trump. The change will take out any language pointing to a previous letter sent by 20 attorneys general, all Democrats — including Washington’s Bob Ferguson — which council members Bill Lover and Maureen Adkison said was inappropriate for the nonpartisan body.
A few residents attended to praise the council on its action in support Yakima’s young “Dreamers.”
Kristen Burke, a member of Act Yakima, a local progressive political group, thanked the council for sending the letter, but noted there’s a long way to go to remedy their lack of action on an ordinance to formalize Yakima police’s practice to not ask residents their residency status.
“This is a very important, positive step for the council to take in reassuring our immigrant community that despite the bigoted rhetoric that has been legitimized by this administration, our local leaders are still with us,” Burke said. “However, I do feel like it is only one small step in repairing the trust with the community after the inclusive policing ordinance was struck down.”