President Trump slammed Democratic mayors, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who boycotted a meeting with him at the White House Wednesday in a protest over the administration’s crackdown on “sanctuary” cities for illegal immigrants.
“The mayors who choose to boycott this event have put the needs of criminal, illegal immigrants over law-abiding Americans,” Mr. Trump said. “So let me tell you, the vast majority of people showed up. Because the vast majority believe in safety for your city.”
About 100 people attended the meeting, but some Democratic mayors skipped it in the wake of a new Justice Department warning that cities harboring illegal immigrants could lose federal funding. Mr. Trump called the move “a critical legal step to hold accountable sanctuary cities that violate federal law and free criminal aliens back into our communities.
“We can’t have that,” the president said. “It would be very easy to go the other way, but we can’t have it. We want a safe country, and it’s getting safer all the time. My administration is committed to protecting innocent Americans.”
When Mr. Trump called on some mayors by name, New Haven, Connecticut, Mayor Toni Harp was apparently a no-show. The president joked that she might be a “sanctuary city person.”
“That’s not possible, is it?” he said.
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The president said sanctuary cities “are the best friend of gangs and cartels, like MS-13.”
“The result in the death rate around sanctuary cities — in and around — for innocent Americans is unacceptable,” Mr. Trump said. “Take a look at what happened in San Francisco and Kate Steinle, and countless others.”
Ms. Steinle was shot and killed in 2015 by Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a Mexican citizen who had been deported from the U.S. five times prior to the killing. A jury in December found him not guilty after his defense claimed the shooting was accidental.
Federal immigration officials have said they will try to deport Garcia Zarate again.
The president also said he will reveal at his State of the Union address next week a $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan to rebuild roads, bridges and other public works.