Flagstaff City Council

Pictured from left to right are Councilmembers Eva Putzova, Scott Overton, Mayor Coral Evans, Councilmember Celia Barotz, Vice-Mayor Jamie Whelan, Councilmembers Charlie Odegaard and Jim McCarthy.

Jake Bacon, Arizona Daily Sun

The Flagstaff City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night to support a resolution urging the United States Congress to permanently address the legal status of recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), also known as Dreamers, and create a clearly defined path for citizenship.

The resolution, which was modeled on a similar resolution passed by the United States Conference of Mayors, listed DACA’s economic benefits including tax revenue and employment generated from the program, as well as Flagstaff’s commitment to diversity as reasons for urging Congress to protect the program.

Councilman Charlie Odegaard originally requested the council take action to support DACA after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the program would be “winding down.”

“It is very important that Congress act on the DACA issue,” Odegaard said in a statement. “We call upon them to permanently address the legal status of these Dreamers within the next six months.”

At the meeting Tuesday evening Councilwoman Eva Putzova proposed adding the request for a clearly defined path to citizenship to the resolution, which did not originally include the request.

The amendment became the sticking point for Councilman Jim McCarthy, who was the lone vote against the resolution. McCarthy said he would support the resolution if it said “a clearly defined path to citizenship for the Dreamers,” but said without specifying the group, it left the resolution too ambiguous to support.

McCarthy proposed amending the resolution to include specifying only Dreamers for the path to citizenship, but the amendment failed by a 4-3 vote, with councilmen Scott Overton and Charlie Odegaard joining McCarthy in supporting the amendment.

The Coconino County Board of Supervisors plans to consider a resolution similar to the city’s next week. Supervisors postponed a vote on the item Tuesday because two board members were absent. The draft resolution calls on Congress to “act quickly to statutorily codify the DACA program.”

Like the resolution passed by the Flagstaff City Council, the resolution highlights the impact of DACA workers on the economy and notes that economists estimate comprehensive immigration reform could grow the U.S. economy by more than 5 percent and $1.4 trillion dollars over the next two decades.

The board decided to take up the resolution because comprehensive immigration reform is one of the county’s federal legislative priorities and DACA is part of that, said Liz Archuleta, board chair.

“When we're talking about DACA students, they are students that are our students and we need to be able to speak out for the fact that we want these students to be successful,” Archuleta said in an interview Wednesday. “We want to be able to create a community where students who have been here their entire lives and have come to know and love this country are being supported.”

The reporter can be reached at cvanek@azdailysun.com or 556-2249.

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Corina Vanek covers city government, city growth and development for the Arizona Daily Sun.

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