Donald Trump’s Sanctuary City Order Could Cut Funding for NYPD Security Around Trump Tower

Mayor Bill de Blasio, flanked on the left by Police Commissioner James O'Neill and on his right by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, flanked on the left by Police Commissioner James O’Neill and on his right by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Madina Toure/Observer

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Queens Congressman Joseph Crowley warned tonight that President Donald Trump‘s new executive order severing so-called “sanctuary cities” from federal funding could sap money from the multi-multi-million-dollar NYPD security perimeter around Trump Tower.

De Blasio, who just this morning labeled the new policy “immoral,” convened Crowley, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and an array of local leaders in City Hall this evening to discuss the new White House dictate. The mayor warned that Trump’s push to block Washington dollars from reaching cities offering haven to undocumented immigrants would “first and foremost fall on the NYPD”—slashing more than $150 million a year from the police department’s budget, most of it counter-terrorism funding.

Asked by a reporter if that could include cash that keeps heavily armed and armored counter-terrorism officers on guard outside the president’s Fifth Avenue Xanadu 24 hours a day, the mayor said it was possible, even likely.

“It’s a fair question. Theoretically it could be in the same bucket,” the mayor said, noting the NYPD provides protection to an array of global officials who regularly come to the five boroughs. “I think the president and his team are going to have to look long and hard at the notion of taking away anti-terrorism funding from New York City, taking away funding that protects foreign leaders visiting New York City.”

Crowley—the fourth-ranked Democrat in the House—went further. He pointed out that $110 million of the funding at risk comes from Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Areas Security Initiative, which gets re-allocated each year based on a determination of the danger posed to each municipality.

The congressman noted that the president’s eponymous tower is far more of a target than it was just a year ago, yet the order could prevent money for protecting the building from reaching the city.

“I think it is important to note that they are based on threat assessment,” Crowley, himself the son of an NYPD officer, said. “That is relevant to the Trump Towers. That’s an increased threat in the city now that didn’t exist three or four months ago.”

The city has struggled, thus far unsuccessfully, to get Washington to reimburse it the $35 million it expended shielding the building between Election Day and the inauguration last Friday. The mayor reported last week that Trump himself had committed in a private phone call to assist in this effort

De Blasio stressed the vague nature of the executive order, insisting there was “less here than meets the eye.” Indeed, the action does not even define the term “sanctuary city.”

New York City has proudly claimed the label for itself, largely because it has removed Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials from Rikers Island, and refuses to comply with requests it detain individuals not accused of violent crime.

On Tuesday, the mayor released his first preliminary budget of the Trump era, but refused to include any allowances for a loss of federal funding from D.C., asserting the President is simply too unpredictable to plan around.

The language of the presidential fiat leaves the disbursement of funding for “law enforcement purposes” at the discretion of Gen. John Kelly, the new secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the incoming U.S. Attorney General. Trump has nominated Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, one of the country’s fiercest critics of immigration, for that role.

The mayor insisted the lack of clarity leaves “solid ground for a legal challenge,” which the city soon would pursue.

“We’re not gonna undermine the progress the NYPD has made over a quarter century,” he said. “We will not deport law-abiding New Yorkers.”

As the presser wore on, the mayor grew more emotional. He blamed Trump political strategist Stephen Bannon for the action, but also highlighted that the president assailed undocumented immigrants at his campaign kickoff in June 2015—more than a year before Bannon, the former head of the website Breitbart, joined the Trump campaign.

“The first words out of his mouth were his characterization of Mexicans as rapists and criminals,” de Blasio said. “Steve Bannon is behind this 100 percent. This has been a systematic effort to demonize people of color and immigrants. And it’s playing out today.”