5 Questions for Mayor de Blasio on How He'll Protect NYC From President Trump

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, and Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service David Beach host a press conference to discuss Election Day security preparations.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, and Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service David Beach host a press conference to discuss Election Day security preparations.
Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Yesterday Mayor Bill de Blasio read a short statement to New Yorkers reeling from the election of Donald Trump. He reminded us that our city was a symbol for tolerance and liberty, and opportunity for people of all walks of life.

"I take solace in the fact that the president-elect is a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker, and I hope and trust he will remember the lessons of a life lived in New York City," the mayor said.

After he finished, the mayor left the podium without taking questions from the assembled reporters. Today at 3 p.m. he will take some questions. Here are some of our own.

What will NYC do to protect its status as a sanctuary city?

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Since 1989, New York City has been a "sanctuary city," which means that police officers and city employees cannot inquire about anyone’s immigration status. This policy survived intact through a Giuliani mayoralty and was expanded upon by Mayor Bloomberg, who limited the collaboration between the Department of Correction and federal immigration authorities. (That doesn’t mean that federal authorities can’t grab immigrants off city streets or raid homes. Since New York City has been so resistant to the feds, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) has taken to stalking courthouses in the city, waiting on immigrants to show up to dispute a parking ticket or summons.)

During the campaign, Trump declared his intention to deport millions of people, and "end sanctuary cities." During the third presidential debate, Trump bragged about how much ICE officers loved him, incorrectly stating that the government agency (rather than one of its unions) had endorsed him: "As you know, the border patrol agents — 16,500 plus ICE — last week endorsed me. First time they've endorsed a candidate. It means their job is tougher."

Trump also said he wanted to roll back Obama’s two executive orders on immigration, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which cover tens of thousands of New Yorkers. Trump can unilaterally roll back those orders, immediately making thousands of New Yorkers who have been in the city for decades subject to deportation. Whether Trump can eliminate sanctuary cities seems unlikely, but with a pledged increase in the budget for ICE, it seems like New York might become a target for increased enforcement.

If Mayor de Blasio is serious about his commitment to protecting immigrants, then some stiff resistance to federal authorities might be in order. If not, the situation could become truly dire.

What will the mayor and the NYPD do to ensure that the information they share with the federal government won't be abused by a Trump Department of Justice?

Since 9-11, the NYPD has been a more-than-willing participant in the surveillance state, sharing information on protesters, civil rights advocates, and religious groups with the federal government. Its Joint Terrorism Task Force works hand-in-hand with the FBI, sharing addresses, photographs, and personal information of individuals in exchange for more federal funding. The city’s counterterrorism unit has tracked protests nationwide and shared the information with the federal government as well. Federal authorities have long dictated and led NYPD surveillance activities.

Under Trump, the FBI, DOJ, and Homeland Security will now be run by individuals who most likely take a dim view on the First Amendment. Responding to last night’s protests against Trump, Homeland Security hopeful David Clarke tweeted, "These temper tantrums from these radical anarchists must be quelled."

If the NYPD were to continue sharing information with federal authorities, who might actually believe that all protesters are "radical anarchists," then this sharing might actually be putting thousands of New Yorkers at risk of federal prosecution. Would City Hall continue this practice if it’s putting New York’s longstanding tradition of protest in jeopardy?

How can NYC defend its climate change agenda under a president who believes global warming is a hoax?

New York City has already seen, firsthand, the impact that global warming has had on our coastal city. In the years to come under a Trump presidency, more greenhouse gases will be emitted as Trump focuses on burning more oil, and the country might exit the weak but still important Paris Accords. New York City will be dealing with the fallout from these decision for centuries to come. More immediately however, the city has several programs that are meant to reduce our own emissions and clear our air. Those are now also in serious jeopardy. Trump has gone from promising to end the Environmental Protection Agency to just seriously undermining it, but New York will still see far less stringent regulations for our local industries, and decreased federal support for things like BioDiesel, which is a cornerstone of City Hall’s plan to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Trump has already cozied up to big oil, so expect cuts across the board for federal programs that support solar energy and ending our reliance on coal. If New York City doesn’t step up its support for these industries, the bottom will completely fall out of their plan to reduce emissions. It’s going to be a smoggy few years.

How will City Hall’s affordable housing plan survive?

A Trump victory is nothing short of apocalyptic for de Blasio’s affordable housing plan. Over 85 percent of the city’s Housing and Preservation Department’s operating budget comes from federal funds. These funds have been dwindling since the sequestration of the federal government back in 2012, but with further cuts to the already anemic budget, City Hall will have to scramble to somehow keep rent-stabilized units from entering the free market, while also figuring out where to get funds to help pay for the construction of new affordable and supportive housing. In addition, housing vouchers, a key HUD program that the city relies on to keep the neediest from entering the shelter program will surely be subject to budget cuts. On top of all that, as a real estate magnate and landlord himself, Trump is an opponent of fair housing laws, several of which prohibit discrimination of prospective tenants based on race, gender, or orientation. Without swift action and enforcement (which will be tough with 85 percent of your budget missing), City Hall will need to find a way to stop the housing market from becoming even more of a Randian hellscape.

Will Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio finally end their stupid feud and band together to help New Yorkers?

Governor Andrew Cuomo has already extended an olive branch to Trump in an attempt to save important federal funding from being slashed.

In an interview with NY1 yesterday, Cuomo explained why he wants to cozy up to Trump as soon as possible, and praised Trump’s Queens roots as a "bonus."

"He understands some Queens, he knows New York, he knows the challenges, so he’ll bring in an orientation," Cuomo said. "Now, we have to see how that translates, right? We have federal programs that are very important to New York. The housing, affordable housing programs – I was the former HUD secretary. The housing obligation, the affordable housing, has historically been a federal obligation. What are they going to do with that?"

Cuomo understands the need for federal funding to keep New York City running, while at the same time he’s been especially withholding of state funds for many of de Blasio’s projects, making him the primary antagonist in their pointless feud. Will a loss of federal funding bring these two former friends back to the deli counter? Or will Cuomo let the feds bleed the city dry as he continues to lavish upstate with money?

City Hall will need Cuomo more than ever in these next few years. Whether Cuomo and de Blasio will make peace will be vital for New York City to make it through a Trump presidency.

In other words: Enjoy the last few weeks of the Obama presidency as much as you can.


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