Among Donald Trump’s first acts as US President was to direct NYC and other local governments to pursue the deportation of undocumented immigrants with records of minor criminal offenses – and he signed an Executive Order decreeing that cities that do not comply, and that declare themselves Sanctuary Cities, will be stripped of federal funding.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill responded swiftly and forcefully -- asserting that NYC will indeed be a Sanctuary City, and that undocumented immigrants will not be harassed, and that they will continue to be treated as full citizens.
HSC applauds these City government leaders for rebuffing Trump’s inhumane policy directive and blustery threat and for standing firmly alongside undocumented New Yorkers. Supporting immigrants and refugees has historically been among HSC’s priorities, and many organizations within our membership advocate on behalf of the population and offer them such services as English-for-Speakers of other languages, employment assistance, early childhood education and afterschool programs.
The details regarding Trump’s Executive Order that would deprive Sanctuary Cities of federal funding are unclear, and we are grateful that the Supreme Court has ruled that federal funds unrelated to immigration enforcement activities cannot be denied to localities refusing to adhere to Trump’s plan, and we also appreciate Mayor de Blasio’s pledge to legally contest any effort to strip federal funds from NYC.
However, we must be vigilant about this matter. Many human services in NYC are financially supported by federal funds in large amounts. As examples, these include: Head Start and Early Head Start, which provide essential early childhood education to children from low-income families and enable their families to work and attend school; Child Welfare services, which help challenged families remain together and support children in the foster care system; and the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs, which help un- and under-employed adults and youth gain access to decent-paying and meaningful jobs. Also, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), through which more than a half-million New Yorkers receive affordable housing and services, is largely funded by the federal government.
Reductions in funding to these and numerous other programs would have devastating effects upon low-income New Yorkers while also de-stabilizing human services organizations and diminishing quality-of-life for all New Yorkers.
But we most certainly will not permit our undocumented neighbors to be harmed out of fear for the loss of funding.
Instead, we will partner with leaders from government and from across the human services sector in a massive resistance to simultaneously secure the safety of undocumented immigrants and sustain the City’s human services network – while demonstrating that we will never -- ever -- relinquish our commitment to compassion and justice!