Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito maintained that New York City will remain a sanctuary city in the aftermath of President-Elect Donald Trump’s victory, and disputed his assertion that there are up to 3 million undocumented immigrants who are criminals.
Speaking at a press conference in front of City Hall to debut a bill designed to protect immigrants from non-attorneys providing fraudulent services, Mark-Viverito said Trump’s election last week was “quite disturbing and alarming,” reiterating her claims that the president-elect has divided Americans and has supported messages of hate and fear. In an interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday, the president-elect said he will deport or jail up to 3 million undocumented immigrants who he said are “criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers.”
But Mark-Viverito asserted the city would shield its residents lacking legal status so long as they have not committed a violent crime.
“We need to say that, we need to take ownership of that term and say that we are not afraid of what we have done to really continue to demonstrate and affirm that the vast majority of immigrants come here and contribute positively to our city and to our economy,” Mark-Viverito said. “So when Trump throws out there a number of deporting 3 million immigrants that are criminals, who knows where he’s getting that information from.”
And like Mayor Bill de Blasio, Mark-Viverito promised that the city is examining the possibility of destroying the records of undocumented individuals who applied to the city’s municipal identification program.
“We are committed to ensuring when we said that—that that information will be confidential and we are currently looking at the possibility of purging it,” Mark-Viverito said.
Trump also proclaimed that he will bring about more vigorous stop-and-frisk policing as a national policy, a ban on Middle Eastern immigration to the United States and the creation of a Muslim registry.
De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have maintain that the city will protect all residents, but have also indicated a willingness to work with him. Mark-Viverito, on the other hand, has remained hostile, calling the Trump presidency a “state of emergency” and saying that hateful rhetoric is “still welcome under Trump’s tent”—pointing in particular to his appointment of controversial Breitbart News head Stephen Bannon as his chief political strategist and counsel.
The Black Institute’s Bertha Lewis has painted a similarly bleak picture, warning last night that racial, religious and sexual minorities should “bet on it” that they will suffer under the Trump administration.
And today, Mark-Viverito protested on Twitter against Trump’s plans to ban Middle Eastern immigration to the country and to create a Muslim registry. She even said she would attempt to sabotage such a filing system by adding herself to it.
At the rally today, Brooklyn Councilman Carlos Menchaca stressed the importance of demonstrating the link between Trump’s victory and the various issues immigrants in the United States.
“I just want to say how important it is for us to keep talking about what is happening and keep connecting it to these elections,” said Menchaca, chairman of the Council’s Committee on Immigration. “We will not normalize these feelings. These are feelings that we need to express so that people out there know that we are responding.”
And he will be meeting with other first- and second-generation elected officials from Arizona and California tonight and tomorrow in Washington, D.C. to talk about the bill and other issues pertaining to the immigrant experience.
Councilman Daniel Dromm, who heads the Education Committee, discussed an experience he had when he went to visit a school in his district last April.
He said that the principal announced over the loudspeaker that they were going to get a visit from Dromm and that a second grader alerted the principal that a 7-year-old girl was crying. It turned out that she mistakenly heard Dromm’s name as Donald Trump, telling the principal she was scared because “I don’t want my family to be deported.”
“Seven years old and this was before the election, so you can imagine the type of fear that this election has instilled in our immigrant community,” Dromm said. “That’s why it’s so important that we’re here today to pass or to hear this legislation in this committee.”
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.