Mayors of 3 largest US cities snub WH meeting after DOJ immigration threat

Mayors of the three largest U.S. cities skipped a previously scheduled meeting at the White House Wednesday after the Department of Justice sent a letter threatening to subpoena jurisdictions across the country for failing to share information with federal authorities related to undocumented immigrants.

The mayors of New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, all cities on the DOJ’s list of jurisdictions, not only snubbed the meeting but blasted President Donald Trump as well.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, tweeted that he would not be attending the meeting, calling the DOJ’s decision a “racist assault on our immigrant communities.”

De Blasio, at his news conference later, said, “on the very day where, in principle, they were telling us they wanted to have an honest dialogue, this proves there was no intention to have an honest dialogue. I came down here ready to have a serious meeting, and what I got was a publicity stunt from the Trump administration. ”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, both Democrats, also did not attend the meeting.

“There is not a single mayor in this country who says, ‘Please, if you’re a criminal, come on over. And if you’re undocumented, bonus points,’” Garcetti said at a news conference at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ winter meeting in Washington, D.C.

“This is a myth, and it’s pure politics. Let’s be clear about what this is; it’s the politics of distraction and destruction.”

Emanuel said at the same news conference, “If you drive a wedge between any immigrant community and the law enforcement; It is contrary to public safety. It’s contrary to the values of our nation, and it’s contrary to the ideals and the law that we establish.”

At the White House meeting today, Trump attacked the mayors who chose not to attend.

“The mayors who choose to boycott this event have put the needs of criminal illegal immigrants over law-abiding Americans,” Trump said. “But let me tell you, the vast majority of people showed up … because the vast majority believe in safety for your city.”

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, also skipped the meeting, saying that while the entire conference of mayors is usually invited every year, that was not the case this year, and he could not attend the meeting “in good conscience” after the DOJ letter was sent.

“I can’t ever recall a situation where someone who professes to want to work with other people punches them in the face first and then says now I’d like to talk to you,” Landrieu said.

Other mayors from major U.S. cities across the country also expressed their displeasure at the DOJ’s decision, calling it insulting and saying they were already in compliance with federal immigration law.

“Perhaps the mailbox at DOJ should be checked so that they can see the mayors of America are going about doing their job, responding when required and getting about the business of growing our cities for all of our citizens,” Democratic Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said.

Ted Wheeler, the Democratic mayor of Portland, Oregon, said, “It is more than insulting. It is dangerous for a White House, for any White House, to threaten duly elected leaders who are following the law and following the United States Constitution with arrest is unconscionable.”

But a DOJ official told reporters if the jurisdictions fail to respond to the latest DOJ request “completely,” then the department will issue subpoenas for the information “and we will take next steps from there.”

This is the “next step in our continued effort to ensure that” jurisdictions getting DOJ grant funds “stick to their word and act in compliance with federal law,” the official said.
“Our goal here, “the official added,” is to ensure compliance with applicable federal law.”

ABC News’ Mike Levine contributed to this report.

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