Donald Trump signed a series of draconian anti-immigrant executive actions on Wednesday. The measures—some directed toward predominantly Muslim nations, others centered around Mexico—make good on his campaign promises to both "build the wall" as well as prevent Muslims from entering the country. But, they go far beyond that, as well.
In particular, Trump's "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States" order sets its sights squarely on "sanctuary cities"—cities which, to varying degrees, abstain from cooperating with federal deportation and detention efforts. In the order, Trump directs his administration to target these communities by limiting federal funds, as well as to publish "a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens." In other words, Trump and his administration will be publicly targeting specific undocumented immigrants—a policy with disturbing implications.
The attack on sanctuary cities has rightfully alarmed immigration activists (to say nothing of actual immigrants), including New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who blasted the new order at a furious, emotional press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
"It's very hard to contain myself after hearing and seeing what I just witnessed," Mark-Viverito began.
"If there was every 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," she continued, visibly angry as she stood at the press room lectern.
Mark-Viverito, born in Puerto Rico, has served for over a decade on the New York City Council, where she is a member of the Women's caucus, Black, Latino/a and Asian caucus, and the Progressive caucus. But even those who've followed her political career for some time found Mark-Viverito's remarks today particulary striking.
Speaking in both English and Spanish, Mark-Viverito struck a defiant tone, calling Wednesday "a terrible day for the United States of America" before referring to Trump as a "highly insecure individual."
"I'm not here to defend the criminals," Mark-Viverito explained at one point in her speech. "I'm not here to defend those who inflict violence on our communities."
"I will defend those children that come over the border fearing for their lives," she continued. "I will defend the 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 here."
"I am extremely upset," she finished, adding "I don't have time for fear. I want to defy, resist, stand up."
You can watch Speaker Mark-Viverito's full remarks above.
This post has been updated to properly reflect Viverito’s American citizenship