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Brock Signs Letter to Streamline Work Authorization for Illegal Immigrants


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By Jorge Casuso

June 5, 2024 -- Santa Monica Mayor Phil Brock was among 41 elected officials who signed a letter to the President calling for an automatic extension of employment authorization for undocumented immigrants.

The letter -- sent to Biden by the Cities for Action Coalition on May 23 -- garnered nationwide attention after being signed by the Mayors of New York and Chicago, where illegal immigration has become a hot-button issue.

In Santa Monica, the letter -- which did not require City Council approval -- went unnoticed.

The two-page letter asked "that the Department of Homeland Security leverage its authority to grant parole for longterm undocumented immigrants and our most recent arrivals to create a process for streamlined work authorization."

"Both recent arrivals and the long-standing undocumented community are susceptible to dangerous work conditions and exploitation that often result when individuals lack access to work authorization and the protections that come with it," the letter read.

"It is our strong recommendation that in the development of this program, worker safety and worker choice is prioritized, and a worker’s legal presence is not solely tied to their employment by a single employer."

Brock did not require Council authorization to sign the letter because it aligns with Santa Monica's position on the issue, City officials said.

"The City regularly signs onto these letters as members of the Cities for Action coalition and in line with the Council adopted legislative platform," said City spokesperson Tati Simonian.

When asked abut the letter, Brock did not initially recall having signed it, saying he had signed other letters, including one that addressed hunger in children and another on gun legislation.

After being sent a copy of the letter, Brock said he supported the issue "primarily for long-term immigrants who have no path to citizenship, so they remain hidden in the woodwork.

"I wasn't thinking about the recent influx," he said. "I'm concerned about some of the recent immigrants who are coming and want better screening at the border. We've got to have checks and balances."

But in general, Brock said, "I'm fine with the letter I signed."

Some of Brock's concerns are shared by residents of large cities that have seen resources strained by a growing wave of immigrants who entered the country illegally.

According to data from the U.S. Border Patrol, encounters and apprehensions of immigrants illegally crossing the U.S. boarder reached an all-time high of 2.4 million during the 2023 Fiscal Year that ended September 30.

During the current Fiscal year, the Border Patrol has reported more than 1.5 million encounters and apprehensions.

On Tuesday, Biden signed an executive order that includes asylum restrictions to help "gain control" of the border by limiting the number of asylum claims.

It also prohibits "those who entered the country illegally from obtaining a legal path to entry for five years," according to a report in the Boston Globe.

Biden's approach "used the same legal theory that Donald Trump used to crack down on the border during his presidency, an approach that Biden explicitly campaigned against in 2020," the Globe wrote.

The move comes as curbing illegal immigration and securing the border have become top priorities for voters who will head to the polls five months from now.

It also comes as large Democrat cities like New York and Chicago are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to provide housing, education and welfare to recently arrived immigrants, mostly from South America.

"Across Chicago, Black residents are frustrated that long-standing needs are not being met while the city’s newly arrived are cared for with a sense of urgency, and with their tax dollars," AP reporter Matt Brown wrote in April.

Brock was one of five California elected officials who signed the letter. The others were San Francisco Mayor London Breed, San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, Orange County Supervisor Vicente Sarmiento and Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza.

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