Coronavirus aid to cities that have designated themselves sanctuary communities for undocumented immigrants might be blocked, President Donald Trump on Tuesday said.
Local and state governments continue to struggle with the economic shock created by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shuttered many businesses deemed non-essential and thrown millions of people out of work.
Tax revenue has frozen up as a result, depriving local and state governments in the process.
Direct aid for state and local governments is being pushed for by Governor Andrew Cuomo and other elected officials in the next coronavirus relief measure.
“We’d have to talk about things like sanctuary cities, as an example,” Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. “I think sanctuary cities is something that has to be brought up where people who are criminals are protected, they are protected from prosecution.”
Sanctuary city policies vary from community to community, but generally bar officials from coordinating with federal immigration enforcement entities.
New York Attorney General Letitia James in a statement blasted Trump’s statement and raised the threat of legal action if he were to follow through on it.
“President Trump’s threat to hold coronavirus funding hostage to cities and states across the country are the latest in his efforts to push a sinister political agenda that only aims to punish us all — citizens and non-citizens alike,” she said. “This is just another attempt to again feed to his base and push the same partisan ideology we’ve seen for the last three years. New York is proud of its status as a sanctuary state that welcomes and will fight to protect its immigrant residents — many of whom are fighting on the frontlines to battle the coronavirus. It is my sincerest hope that one day the president will wake up and realize the power of his words, until that day comes we will be ready to take legal action.”