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DOJ Threat on Sanctuary Cities Drives Some Mayors Away from White House Event

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at the inauguration of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez in Brookyn on Jan. 21, 2018. (Albin Lohr-Jones/Sipa via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he came in “good faith” to participate in a Wednesday White House event with dozens of other mayors, but backed out after the Justice Department announced it would be putting pressure on and possibly subpoenaing 23 states, cities and counties deemed sanctuary cities.

“Our police force, for decades, in both Democratic and Republican administrations, has refused to ask New Yorkers their documentation status when encountering them. And this is one of the reasons immigrant New Yorkers trust the police and will come forward to the police,” de Blasio said at a press conference. “God forbid they’ve been a victim of crime or they’re a witness to a crime, immigrant New Yorkers, documented and undocumented feel safe going to the police and working with them, and we will never let that change.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement Wednesday that he urged “all jurisdictions under review to reconsider policies that place the safety of their communities and their residents at risk.”

“Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law,” Sessions added. “We have seen too many examples of the threat to public safety represented by jurisdictions that actively thwart the federal government’s immigration enforcement—enough is enough.”

Other mayors boycotting the event included L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and vice president of the mayors’ conference Steve Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, S.C. A Republican, Mayor Elizabeth Kautz of Burnsville, Minn., also boycotted the event.

Landrieu said that “an attack on mayors who lead welcoming cities is an attack on everyone in the conference,” and charged the White House aimed to “threaten mayors and demonize immigrants yet again — and use cities as a political prop in the process.”

About 100 mayors were in attendance as the president slammed sanctuary cities as “unacceptable.”

“My administration is committed to protecting innocent Americans and the mayors who choose to boycott this event have put the needs of criminal illegal immigrants over law-abiding Americans. But let me tell you, the vast majority of people showed up, OK?” President Trump said at the event. “The vast majority. Because the vast majority believe in safety for your city.”

De Blasio said the DOJ threat “proves there was no intention to have an honest dialogue” and the meeting was “a publicity stunt from the Trump administration.”

“Here’s what he did to a group of mayors – he said, come over to my house but I’m going to take your wallet while you’re there,” he added. “It’s an immediate affront that showed bad will.”

“…I know his administration did something premeditated because this went out first thing in the morning, and this is from the Department of Justice, and we can safely say what Jeff Sessions does is clearly a leading edge of the entire administration. So, they did this this morning. They could have done it on any other day – they chose the morning – the very first and only time they’ve invited Americas mayors to come to the White House, they attack literally a list of American cities and say they’re going to take away our funding.”