Trump lashes out at mayors boycotting White House event
President Trump on Wednesday attacked mayors who boycotted a White House event over his administration’s crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities.
“The mayors who choose to boycott this event have put the needs of criminal, illegal immigrants, over law-abiding America,” Trump told a group of mayors who attended the event. “So let me tell you, the vast majority of people showed up.”
The president spoke after the Justice Department threatened to legally compel almost two dozen cities to show that they are cooperating with federal immigration laws.
Officials from the Justice Department sent letters to leaders of New York City, San Francisco, Chicago and other major cities demanding they turn over information about citizenship and immigration status of people who have been arrested. Many of the cities are seeking law-enforcement grant money from the administration.
The move prompted a swift backlash from city leaders, with many mayors joining a last-minute boycott of the White House meeting.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D), the head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, announced the boycott shortly before the event, overshadowing the planned discussion on infrastructure and combating the opioid epidemic.
New York City’s Bill de Blasio was the highest-profile mayor to join the boycott.
“I will NOT be attending today’s meeting at the White House after @realDonaldTrump’s Department of Justice decided to renew their racist assault on our immigrant communities,” de Blasio tweeted.
It was the latest turn in the dispute between the Trump administration and city leaders who choose not to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
The administration has repeatedly threatened to withhold grant money from the cities, which has triggered a contentious battle in the courts.
“We support enforcing the law and following the law,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “And if mayors have a problem with that, they should talk to Congress, the people that pass the laws.”
Sanders said the White House “would love to be able to work with these mayors, particularly on issues like infrastructure and other things. But we cannot allow people to pick and choose what laws they want to follow.”
“If we have a country with no laws, then nothing matters,” she added.
Many mayors and immigrant rights advocates say cooperating with federal authorities erodes trust of police in immigrant communities, making their cities less safe.
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