The Fresno City Council on Thursday built on its own 2013 resolution, urging Congress to approve comprehensive immigration reform, this time unanimously passing an updated document that adds the White House to the plea – and much stronger wording.
“Congress and the President of the United States are hereby encouraged to act with haste,” the resolution says.
Sudarshan Kapoor, a longtime local peace activist and emeritus professor of social work at Fresno State University, was there to lend his voice in support of immigration reform.
“There are some people trying to fix it but some people who are trying to stop it,” he told council members. “Let us be on the right side.”
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The resolution specifically says immigration reform should be paired with the implementation of President Barack Obama’s executive orders that expand legal status and work permits both for immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children and to immigrants in the country illegally who are the parents of U.S. citizens. The programs are known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability.
It also notes not just Obama’s executive action but also Assembly Bill 60, which granted driver’s licenses to undocumented residents, and the Fresno Adult School being named one of five recipients of the National Network for Integrating New Americans Initiative, as steps taken to help undocumented immigrants locally.
That wording is much stronger than the resolution passed in October 2013.
“I know that locally here we benefit from having immigrants in our local economy, particularly in the agricultural sector,” Council Member Esmeralda Soria, who co-sponsored the resolution along with Council President Oliver Baines, said Thursday. Soria, who took office in January, was not on the council when the first resolution was passed.
Soria said her parents came to the U.S. as immigrants and raised five children who earned college degrees.
“We are an example of how immigrants come here to this country and to really work hard to provide better opportunities and contribute to our local economy,” she said.
Council Member Clint Olivier added he was “100 percent in support of this resolution. This is something that is needed. This is something where members of Congress and the White House are out of touch with what’s happening on the ground in the state of California.”
Council Member Steve Brandau offered a different take, even as he supported the resolution.
“If we don’t initiate security in this country soon, all of the arguments that you guys made today will be obsolete. I agree with many of the arguments, so I’m just going to add, for my own opinion, that border security and security of the process is the starting ground to this conversation. … It’s time for Congress and the White House to step up and do their jobs.”
In other action
Development fees: The council unanimously approved a pair of ordinances sponsored by Clint Olivier and Esmeralda Soria that will waive city-imposed fees for new development projects built in blighted, economically disadvantaged areas of town. The ordinances are expected to save developers up to 10 percent of costs if they build in poorer, established parts of the city. That cost savings could be the difference for a developer looking to do an infill project in the city, Soria said. Such developments, if they go forward, will help boost property values in older parts of the city.
In older parts of the city, the resolution notes, public infrastructure to support commercial is already in place, eliminating the need for additional development fees.
Economically disadvantaged areas are defined as a designated Community Development Block Grant area; U.S. Census tracts where 40 percent or more of households are considered to be of low or moderate income; areas within a half mile of the Blackstone Bus Rapid Transit corridor south of Shaw Avenue; and several former Redevelopment Project Areas.
“We want to encourage private investment whenever possible to assist the city of Fresno’s efforts in stabilizing our disadvantaged communities,” she said.
Revenue generation: The council held an afternoon workshop but took no action.