NYC, Brooklyn officials defy Trump’s attack on illegal immigration
Several Brooklyn Republicans, however, wants city to comply
Many New York City officials and Brooklyn’s community leaders reacted with dismay and defiance to President Donald Trump’s attack on illegal immigrants via two executive orders on Wednesday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement on Twitter, “We will not deport law-abiding New Yorkers. We are not going to tear families apart. We are not going to leave children without their parents.”
In a fiery speech at a rally sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington Square Park Wednesday evening, city Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told a crowd, “President Trump’s reckless decisions to build a costly wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, attack sanctuary cities, persecute immigrants and restore the deeply flawed Secure Communities program will only fuel division and foster unfounded fears.”
One of Trump’s executive orders would prohibit federal grants to sanctuary cities and states, including New York, that fail to enforce federal immigration laws.
In the other order, Trump directed federal agencies to begin construction of a wall on the border with Mexico, and to allocate taxpayer money to build it — contrary to his campaign promise to force Mexico to bankroll the wall, which is roughly estimated to cost from $12-$15 billion.
On Thursday, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has said that Mexico will not pay for the wall, cancelled a meeting with Trump planned for next week. To reinforce the point, former Mexican President Vicente Fox Quesada tweeted on Thursday, “Sean Spicer, I’ve said this to @realDonaldTrump and now I’ll tell you: Mexico is not going to pay for that f*ing wall.”
A draft of another order that would temporarily ban immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries and bar all refugees from coming to the U.S. for several months was also recently leaked, according to news reports.
New York officials come out fighting
Numerous city and state officials issued a flurry of releases throughout Wednesday and Thursday.
“President Trump’s plans are based on alternative facts and do nothing to keep us safe or fix our immigration system in a humane, pragmatic and effective way,” U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, via Twitter, said, “… If we’re going to question immigrants and deport immigrants, then who is safe, and who is left? Because we are all immigrants.”
Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-parts of Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan) called Trump’s wall plan “a political distraction” and an “ineffectual, expensive boondoggle that costs American taxpayers billions of dollars, does nothing meaningful to address immigration issues and simply serves as a symbol of this Administration’s hateful rhetoric.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former police officer, also spoke out against the plan.
“We must not allow a tsunami of xenophobia to wash away centuries of our nation’s legacy as a beacon of diversity and opportunity,” he said.
City Councilmember and Immigration Chair Carlos Menchaca (D-Red Hook, Sunset Park) said, “Our city, neighborhoods of immigrant families, will unite, resist and protect each other.”
State Assembly Speaker Felix Ortiz (D-Red Hook, Sunset Park) said he would be joining “with my state legislative colleagues from across the nation in Washington to oppose these wrongful and misguided actions.”
Several Brooklyn Republicans back Trump
State Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (R -Brooklyn, Staten Island) is calling on the city to comply with the order.
In a statement on Thursday, Malliotakis argued that some serious crimes committed by illegal immigrants fall below NYC’s threshold for deportation. These include, she said, grand larceny in the first degree, aggravated identity theft and diversion of prescription medications.
“It’s truly frightening that our city refuses to treat criminals in accordance with federal law, and would jeopardize federal funding by harboring individuals who have committed crimes from deportation. It is time to restore New York City to a law-and-order city,” she said.
Rep. Dan Donovan (R-Brooklyn, Staten Island) agreed with this sentiment, in general.
“I spent my career enforcing our state’s laws as a prosecutor. I don’t believe cities should be exempt from following laws, and I support President Trump’s general position to end sanctuary cities,” he said.
He added, “I am currently reviewing the provisions of the president’s executive order to determine how this will impact funding for other critical budget items, including the anti-terror initiatives I fought to fund last year. As New York City’s only Republican representative, I will always fight for our share of federal funds. I’ll be studying this and other pertinent questions.”
According to an initial analysis by City Comptroller Scott Stringer, issued in November, Trump’s cuts would eliminate up to $7 billion in funding to New York City, having “devastating impact.” (The cuts could be less if the NYPD budget for intelligence and counter-terrorism is left untouched.)
An in-depth study by the Washington Post found that New York City’s crime rate actually decreased after it became a sanctuary city.
Schneiderman: It’s illegal
Trump’s order requires the attorneys general of the 50 states to enforce the rules. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, however, said that Trump’s actions on immigration were illegal.
“The president lacks the constitutional authority to cut off funding to states and cities simply because they have lawfully acted to protect immigrant families — as described in the legal guidance my office issued last week. Local governments seeking to protect their immigrant communities from federal overreach have every right to do so.”
Schneiderman added if Trump does not revoke the order right away, “I will do everything in my power to fight it.”
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