Harlem Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito opening statement at a public hearing on immigration Bills:
Thank you, Councilmember Menchaca for your leadership and the steadfast local strong leadership of this Council.
I am very proud of the work we do each and every day to uphold our values to be inclusive of all communities and particularly, and obviously, of all that we have done on the front to defend our immigrant brothers and sisters.
Thank you for being here. Today we begin the process of bringing our legislative tools to bear on the very real threat coming out of Washington to destabilize and undermine our community.
And make no mistake—the threat is not only to our immigrant community—it is to all New Yorkers. In addition to threats to deport millions of immigrants, we have heard threats to Muslims, women, the disabled, those accessing public assistance and others.
As I said in my state of the City address in February–we won’t back down from these threats—we will resist. We will speak the truth to the lies and we will protect ourselves from the worst of human instincts.
Islam is not a terrorist organization whose followers are to be banned from entry into the country, Immigrants are not criminals to be hunted down and deported, the LGBTQ community deserves the same protections as other vulnerable populations, and women do have the capacity and right to make their own reproductive health decisions.
And by the way— the City is not soft on crime. In fac, we are the safest big city in America. We have been for years despite, and likely because of, the fact that we are a sanctuary city protecting our immigrant families from misguided civil immigration enforcement.
So today we begin our legislative pushback.
It bears noting that nothing we are considering or have implemented has been outside the bounds of the law.
Unlike the executive orders we’ve seen coming out of Washington, we honor and protect the rule of law. Just yesterday a federal judge issued a nationwide injunction blocking the president’s executive order targeting sanctuary cities, affirming that it is nothing more than an unconstitutional effort to punish sanctuary cities for defying the president’s anti-immigrant and fear-mongering agenda. We cooperate with federal authorities to the extent we are required. Where it is up to us—for example when it comes to honoring civil immigration detainer requests–we do so when it is in the City’s best interests.
I want to say a few words about the first two bills will be hearing regarding the protection of personal, confidential information the City may have about New Yorkers.
This bill is not just about protecting immigrant New Yorkers; it is about protecting all of us.
The world we live in is data-driven. Data is critical to the efficient operation of our City. We gather and use vast amounts of data including personal information for millions of New Yorkers.
So this bill is designed to protect all New Yorkers from unwarranted intrusion on their privacy.
I want, before I conclude, to say that our leadership on the issues regarding immigrant communities, in particular defending our immigrant brothers and sisters, documented or not, is not just through this legislative work, it is also through the initiatives that we funded that have made incredible inroads and are historic, in their own right, and that now we see other cities emulate in light of the current threats. When we talk about our NYIFUP program, where we have invested millions of dollars into providing legal services and legal protection for all who are facing deportation proceedings, that is historic, and we are also seeing other cities like Seattle and others looking to emulate it. We advocated for and invested millions of dollars in our preliminary budget and advocated for the Administration to increase its commitment to this initiative and to baseline it. I am happy that the executive budget will see a reflection of that effort and an increase in the amount of money.
I want to thank all the Committee Chairs here today for their leadership on issues so important to the City’s safety and continued vitality: Immigration Committee Chair Carlos Menchaca, Education Committee Chair Danny Dromm and Public Safety Committee Chair, Vanessa Gibson for their leadership on issues so important to the City’s safety and continued vitality.
Here’s the video here