In the first several weeks of Donald Trump's presidency one of the hottest controversies has been sparked by the President's use of executive orders to make good on his campaign promises to crack down on illegal immigration here in the United States. How is New York City, a sanctuary city that has historically welcomed immigrant , responding?
No one can say that candidate Trump was not clear on what he planned to do if elected when it came to stemming the tide of illegal immigration. He told CNN during the campaign that due to our nation's poor border enforcement American citizens had been raped and killed by criminal illegal immigrants.
"We are going to get rid of some really bad ones. You know that---gang members. You look at some of these gangs they are 100 percent illegal immigrants. They are going to be gone and they are going tone gone fast. They are not going to be in a our prisons for us to take care of. Our prisons are bursting with illegals right now"
CNN ANCHOR:What about the majority of law abiding majority?
"Now you had people that came in illegally. They are called illegal immigrant and they are here illegally. They are going to have to go and they are going to have to come in legally otherwise we don't have a country."
Just several weeks into the Donald Trump’s Presidency, the phones are ringing off the hook at Joshua Bardavid’s immigration law firm located on the corner of Chambers Street and Broadway in Lower Manhattan. He says the fierce anti-rhetoric of Trump’s campaign and the President’s recent executive orders on immigration are exacting a heavy toll on both the undocumented and legal immigrant community.
New York City is home to tens of thousands of families where the children are native born American citizens yet their parents are here in the US illegally:
“It is creating more than anxiety. It is creating panic which is having real implications. People are not showing up for work.People are pulling their children out of school.People are altering their lives, their plans and their livelihoods as a result of the fear, some of it which is based in reality and some it just based in the rhetoric.”
While Trump’s executive order that targeted several majority Muslim countries got a lot of press it was ultimately thrown out by the courts. Bardavid says the executive order wrecking the most havoc is the one that give officials much broader discretion on who can be deported:
"Well probably the most widespread example would be the change in enforcement priorities so that people who may have had a path to normalizing their status, or legalizing their status but could have issues, on whether it be the manner of entry, whether it be a relative, whether it be brush with the law now might not have that avenue and now may actually be a target for enforcement where one month ago they weren’t a target for enforcement.”
So, it is not just the exiting undocumented population that are vulnerable according to Bardavid:
“In fact the way the enfocement priorities have been drafted is to give such broad discretion it encompasses not only the 12 million undocumented but an additional, I have read reports of about six to eight million individuals who are here lawfully but may have had prior immigration violations which they have since fixed………so in fact in fact we have broadened the pool to huge unknowable numbers to be honest. "
The one thing that President Trump crack down on immigration has sparked here in New York City has been regular public protests in support of the city’s immigrant communities. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito addressed a large crowd on the steps of City Hall who had come out to support observant Muslim women who rear a hijab:
“I definitely stand out here in solidarity. It has been a tough week for many of us that believe in peace, that believe in justice and believe in equality We have been out on the streets almost every day in response to these executive orders that keep raining down on us and wreaking havoc. There is chaos all around us and what it is doing is just illiciting fear and division and many of our communities are targeted.... We have seen the steady mainstreaming of bigotry over the course of the election, the rise in hate crimes against women, imams, mosques and now policies and executive orders baring Muslim immigration grounded in fear and hate.”
Manhattan Brough President Gail Brewer.:
“The women in hijabs are scientists, doctors, lawyers brilliant committed community people. The best of the world, The best of the world.”
Brewer referenced the spontaneous protests that drew thousands of New Yorkers to the region's airports in support of travelers caught up in chaos of Trump’s Muslim nation travel ban that were replicated across the country:
“That kind of community coming out for the Muslim community is perhaps something we have never seen before. If there is a tiny silver lining in that it is that we are one and we are not going to forget it."
For Brewer New York City’s status as a sanctuary city that accepts the undocumented is the key ingredient to its continued prosperity:
“We are 8.5 million people. We speak 150 languages. Immigrants bring $100 billion dollars to the economy of the City of New York and they own 83,000 businesses. That President get lost. We are real. We are going to win and the women who wear the hijab are the backbone our community."
As it turns out even as New York City’s undocumented immigrant community has grown it has also become increasingly safe and less violent which the NYPD says is linked to the trust it has established with the very people most afraid of President Trump’s actions. Consider that in 1990 2,262 murders were reported. Last year 330 were recorded.
Click above to hear Bob Hennelly's report.