Miami city commissioners unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday urging the federal government to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians and Central Americans and to find a permanent solution for Dreamers under DACA.
This resolution was sponsored by every commissioner and the mayor. The designation offers temporary U.S. residency to immigrants fleeing disasters and political instability in their homelands.
Commissioner Ken Russell, who is running to represent Florida's 27th district in the U.S. Congress, was the one who introduced the resolution. “In a city like Miami, where more than half of our residents are from another country, we need to recognize that we’re an example to the rest of the country and our country should be an example for the rest of the world of how healthy immigration can build a society and not be a burden on it,” he said.
During a press conference, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez also spoke of the importance of supporting Miami’s immigrant community.
“If people want to come to this country, they should have the right to be law-abiding citizens trying to be productive members of the city and of this country. This city, its strength is in its inclusiveness and diversity,” Suarez said.
Miami’s resolution also asks the federal government to offer TPS status to thousands of undocumented Venezuelans living in the United States who face what city leaders call inhumane conditions in Venezuela if forced to return. “We don't send people back to countries where their lives are in danger...Venezuela, I believe should be added to the list because they are experiencing a political storm, a socioeconomic storm, and to send someone back to Venezuela right now would be the wrong thing to do.,” Russell said.
Russell hopes that this resolution might make the conversation a little more personal. “That as we as a city speak up [on a federal issue] that it turns a few heads and opens a few ears,” he said.
Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, is grateful to the city of Miami for passing this resolution and hopes that this will only encourage more support for TPS recipients. “Every day that more allies come to the struggle, to the space, to help us fight for these TPS recipients, it's a win. And we feel stronger because fighting alone is not good. We need all the support that we can get.”
Correction: The original version of this story stated that Commissioner Ken Russell "is planning to run for Congress next year," when Commissioner Russell has already launched a campaign for Florida's 27th Congressional District.