Just days before President Barack Obama announced on Friday that his administration will halt deportations and grant work permits to young immigrants brought into the country illegally by their parents, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which is meeting in Orlando, put forth a resolution urging Obama to do just that.
One of the people pushing for the resolution: former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, who is in the conference as one of its past presidents.
Diaz said he became "obsessed" with the issue of undocumented students over the past few months in part after hearing the story of a Coral Gables Senior High School graduate from Honduras who took care of her siblings when her mother was stricken with cancer.
After finding out from immigrant advocates that the president could take executive action to grant young immigrants some sort of legal status, Diaz said he spoke to U.S. senators, lawmakers and current mayors to garner their support.
The resolution asking for provisional legal status for DREAM Act-eligible immigrants was eventually put forth by 13 mayors, including well-known figures like Michael Bloomberg of New York City and local mayors such as Juan Carlos Bermudez of Doral, André Pierre of North Miami and Joy Cooper of Hallandale Beach. The full conference was scheduled to vote on the measure in a session Saturday -- though that now appears to be moot, following the president's executive order.
An elated Diaz said he was "doing cartwheels" Friday morning when he learned of Obama's policy shift.
"I was just so excited," he said. "This is about doing the right thing, and doing the right thing for these kids ... This is their country. This is America. This is where they want to grow up."