New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is not backing down in the face of President Donald Trump’s latest directives on immigration.
Trump signed executive orders Wednesday calling for an expansion of the barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border and threatening to punish so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions which currently limit how much local law enforcement cooperates with federal deportation efforts. The president also greatly expanded the number of undocumented immigrants the White House considers a priority to deport.
Mark-Viverito, born in Puerto Rico, defied the president’s orders in a press conference. And the speaker did little to hide her extreme discontent toward both Trump and his directives.
“It’s very hard to contain myself after hearing and seeing what I just witnessed, as many of you have,” Mark-Viverito said. “So, obviously, if there was ever any doubt in anyone’s mind whether Trump’s bigoted, hateful, divisive rhetoric truly reflected his intentions, we’ve seen that on display right now.”
The Latina official assured the press that New York City would continue to defend and protect immigrants from the president’s “dangerous and misguided attack.” And Mark-Viverito vowed that the city would not stand “idly by while a Trump Administration tears families apart and uses them as scapegoats.”
After finishing her remarks, Mark-Viverito seemed to go off script and delivered an emotional and personal response to the president’s executive orders. She accused Trump of deflecting from real concerns that result in city violence, citing gun laws as a “true issue” that needs to be addressed.
“Putting all [undocumented immigrants] in one lump sum category and vilifying them as criminals is obviously a false narrative that he continues to hold up and is very dangerous and divisive to this country,” Mark-Viverito said as she finalized her remarks. “This is a terrible day for the United States of America and it is very, very frustrating how we are being divided and the false narrative that is being peddled by this highly insecure individual who is using power to uphold that false narrative.”
New York City has adopted several measures to protect undocumented immigrants in its jurisdiction. Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio launched a city-wide ID that doesn’t require legal immigration status to obtain in 2015. The speaker also helped spearhead efforts to fund the legal defense of undocumented immigrants facing deportation after tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors began arriving from Central America in 2014.
During the Q&A portion of the press conference, a journalist asked Mark-Viverito about her personal reaction to Trump’s orders. The speaker responded by saying she was “disgusted” by the president’s blatant lies and said she would defend all immigrants who do not “inflict violence on our communities.”
“I will defend those children that come over the border fearing for their lives,” she said. “I will defend an undocumented women or man that comes here looking for a better lifestyle for themselves so they can provide for their families back home. And that is the vast majority of immigrants that are here. I am extremely upset. And so I don’t have time for fear. I want to defy, resist, stand up. ”