The Fresno City Council on Thursday voted 5-1 to pass a resolution supporting DACA recipients, joining 40 other cities in a show of solidarity with those immigrants, whose case is expected to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a program that allows young adults, brought to the country illegally by their parents as children, to remain in the country without fear of deportation.
The program, approved through executive action by former President Barack Obama, also grants young immigrants two-year working permits.
But the administration of President Donald Trump has been seeking to end the program. The Supreme Court is expected to consider the case against the federal government’s plan.
There are about 5,000 DACA recipients in Fresno. The Migration Policy Institute estimates there were 200,150 DACA recipients in California and 699,350 nationwide as of August 2018.
The council had a tense debate about the issue before reaching a vote.
Councilmember Garry Bredefeld cast the lone opposing vote, while Councilmember Paul Caprioglio voted in support only to be consistent with a prior vote on the program.
Caprioglio said the issue was outside the City Council’s hands, and urged those at the federal level to work to address the problem. He believes city issues are his “paramount” concern.
“I want to stay focused on those city issues,” he said, before indicating he would support the resolution to be consistent with his 2013 vote on DACA.
Councilman Mike Karbassi had a similar opinion, but abstained from voting, saying he didn’t want to set a precedent for the council to weigh in on national issues.
“This body lacks the authority,” he said. “That authority lies with Congress. I’m going to focus on my community.”
Councilman Miguel Arias, who sponsored the resolution, argued that eliminating DACA will leave thousands of young adults unemployed in Fresno.
He also highlighted the contribution DACA recipients make to the local economy. “It will be a direct and financial impact to our city,” he said.
Bredefeld said the issue should be left for the federal government to address.
Bredefeld said he supports legal immigration, and if a person came to the United States illegally through their own fault or not, that’s a fact.
“We are a nation of laws,” he said. “...I can’t support this because we are a nation of laws, and we can’t pick and choose.”
Councilman Nelson Esparza said the resolution is to state the city’s position, rather than voting on whether something is illegal. “We are a nation of laws, but we are also a nation of immigrants,” he said. “This is just to acknowledge the impact to us as city leaders.”
A handful of people spoke in support of the resolution during public comment.
Juan Martin Carrillo, who came to the U.S. when he was 3 years old, said the DACA program positively changed his life. “It has opened the doors for me to have a work permit and continue to be here,” he said.
Juan Carlos Carrillo, Juan Martin’s father, also spoke in support. “Many like me, are with their children who are Dreamers, dreaming of a better future,” he said in Spanish. “They are the future of Fresno.”