Mayor de Blasio and city leaders vowed defiance Wednesday in the face of an executive order signed by President Trump to strip federal funding from “sanctuary cities” like New York.
De Blasio promised to sue to block the move if the federal government actually yanks money from the city.
“We will not deport law-abiding New Yorkers. We will not tear families apart,” de Blasio said at a City Hall press conference called to respond to the order. “The stroke of a pen in Washington does not change the people of New York City or our values. It does not change how this city government protects its people. The executive order will not change how we enforce the law.”
New York is one of the cities targeted in the order for policies like its refusal to turn over to the feds undocumented immigrants who are arrested for minor offenses, and for cops and other city employees not to ask about residents’ immigration status.
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De Blasio said those policies won’t change — nor will the city comply with the order’s directions to deputize local law enforcement to enforce immigration policies.
“We’re not going to allow our police officers to be used as immigration enforcement agents,” he said. “The spirit of this executive order runs contrary to our character and our values as a city. I would argue it runs contrary to the character and values of the United States.”
New York City gets more than $ 7 billion a year in federal funding.
Trump can’t take all that money — but he could withdraw some grants, like security and anti-terror money granted to the NYPD. Among the cash that’s most at risk is $ 156 million in anti-terror money for the NYPD under the urban areas security initiative, and $ 9 million in Department of Justice grants, according to City Controller Scott Stringer.
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The Supreme Court has ruled that the feds can’t coerce localities into doing its bidding by taking away unrelated money.
“There is less here than meets the eye,” Hizzoner said of the order, noting the vagueness of its language.
The order appears to mandate that sanctuary cities not get grants from the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice, but contains exceptions for money judged necessary for law enforcement or required by law.
“It appears to be frankly more gesture than legal force,” said the city’s top lawyer, Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter.
President Trump takes aim at ‘sanctuary cities’ like New York
But if there is a concrete move to nix grants, the city will go to court within “the next hour” to seek an injunction to stop it, de Blasio said.
“We would be in court immediately to stop it, and I know that will happen in cities across the country,” he said. “We are going to fight this. And cities and states all over the country are gonna fight it.”
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito forcefully denounced the order at her own press conference Wednesday afternoon.
“This is a terrible day for the United States of America,” she said.
Her voice rising in anger, she vowed that New York’s immigration stance would not change in the face of the threat.
“I am disgusted,” she said. “I am extremely upset. And so I don’t have time for fear. I want to defy, resist, stand up. That’s what we need to do as a city.”
Trump is wrongly smearing all undocumented immigrants as criminals, Mark-Viverito said. “I will defend those children that come over the border fearing for their lives. I will defend an undocumented woman or man that comes here looking for a better lifestyle for themselves so they can provide for their families back home. And that is the vast majority of immigrants that are here,” she said.
Trump, she said, is a “highly insecure individual” bent on bolstering his “ego” at the expense of vulnerable people. “He lives in an alternate universe where facts don’t matter,” she said.
“Everything we’ve put into place is protected. We believe it’s all legal. And so we’re going to defend the laws we’ve put in place,” Mark-Viverito said. “We’re not going to waver.”
De Blasio put out an $ 84.67 billion city budget proposal Tuesday, which did not account for any reductions in federal money. He said he recognized the threat was real but was waiting for specifics before factoring numbers into the spending plan.
Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens), who joined the mayor at City Hall along with a host of city commissioners, called the President’s move a scary and dangerous one.
“It scares the daylights out of me. For a cheap political stunt, that he would threaten to withhold funding from our law enforcement that would make us vulnerable to a terrorist attack — that’s immoral,” Crowley said.
With Ben Kochman
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