New York Mayor Bill de Blasio predicted this morning that President Trump’s executive order blocking travel from a handful of Muslim-majority countries and refugees is foreshadowing religion-based restrictions.
“I think it’s the first step towards a ban. I think it’s the first step towards a registry. I don’t say that out of paranoia. I say that because if you take everything that Donald Trump said on the campaign trail and treat it like he meant it,” de Blasio told MSNBC.
“I know there’s that famous, serious-vs.-literal question. I think it’s really smart in political life to assume if someone says something out loud to the roar of the crowd, they just might mean it. And a lot of history suggests we should have taken people a little more literally and we wouldn’t have been surprised later on,” he added.
“Look he talked about a ban, he talked about a registry. This is an obvious first step. I think it caused revulsion all over the country. I think a lot of people saw this and said, wait a minute, we’re putting older folks in detention, folks who are ill, children, permanent residents were in detention. That was, I think one of the things that really bothered people the most. How do you put a permanent resident of the United States in detention with no charge? That’s fundamentally against our values.”
Responding to the White House argument that the travel restrictions that went into effect Friday are all about national security, the mayor noted that New York City is “the number one terror target in America.”
“We experienced terrorism. It’s not theoretical for us. We lost 3,000 people. But at the same time we’re the ultimate city of immigrants. We’re a city that absolutely believes in respect for all faiths and religions including our Muslim brothers and sisters who are part of New York City, including 900 police officers in New York City who happen to be Muslim,” he said. “We can’t see something where people are divided along religious lines and feel good about it.”
De Blasio said holding individuals determined to pose a security threat is fine, but “this is not even close.”
“This is anyone who comes from those countries. And then there’s clear language that suggests if you’re Muslim you’re going to be treated differently than ‘religious minorities,'” the mayor continued.
Elaborating on a potential slippery slope to a Muslim ban, de Blasio noted, “I can’t read his mind. But if we take him too lightly we will regret it. We should be ready to recognize if someone can mouth those words then maybe they could actually do it. And we’d be fools to think otherwise.”
On Trump’s other executive order on deporting illegal immigrants convicted, charged or suspected of committing a crime, de Blasio said he’s told Trump and attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) that he’s in agreement to a degree.
“Here’s a list of 170 offenses, serious crimes, violent crimes,” the mayor said he told them. “If you commit one of these and you’re undocumented, we’re going to work with ICE right away because we don’t think you belong here either.”
“If you steal a loaf of bread or you have a small amount of marijuana I’m not going to see, from my point of view, a family torn apart or someone deported over that or the family’s only breadwinner sent back to their home nation. That’s not good for anyone. That leaves a bunch of kids here with no one,” de Blasio added. “But if you commit a serious or a violent crime, we will fully, by our law in New York City, will fully cooperate with ICE.”