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Protesters Decry Trump Immigration Orders at Washington Square Park Rally

By Danielle Tcholakian | January 25, 2017 5:51pm | Updated on January 26, 2017 7:47am
 Crowds gathered at Washington Square Park Wednesday night to protest President Donald Trump's executive orders about immigration.
Crowds gathered at Washington Square Park Wednesday night to protest President Donald Trump's executive orders about immigration.
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DNAinfo/Noah Hurowitz

GREENWICH VILLAGE — Crowds gathered at Washington Square Park Wednesday evening to protest this week's wave of anti-immigration executive orders signed by President Donald Trump.

The protest came amid on the same day Trump signed orders to build a wall along the border of Mexico and to cut federal funds to "sanctuary cities" like New York that don't cooperate with deportations and other federal actions against undocumented immigrants.

"Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here," the crowd chanted.

The protest was organized quickly by the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY).

Trump is also expected to sign an executive order restrict visas for refugees and other immigrants from select "high-risk" countries — most of which have with large Muslim populations — from entering the United States, according to a draft of the order leaked to the press Tuesday.

Trump's executive order on sanctuary cities specified that the more than 200 cities and counties around the nation that declare themselves “sanctuaries” for immigrants, as New York City has, will be ineligible to receive federal grants, other than those “deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes.”

READ MORE: New York Could Lose Billions as Trump Attacks Sanctuary Cities

Comptroller Scott Stringer, who was one of several elected officials to speak at the rally, previously estimated Trump could impact a total of $7 billion that the city relies on from the federal government.

The majority of that funding goes to the NYPD's counterterrorism efforts — more than 61 percent of which is funded by the federal government — and to services for the city's neediest denizens, including child protective services, affordable housing and HIV/AIDS prevention.

The sanctuary cities order also states that the Trump administration plans to release a weekly report of “criminal actions committed by aliens and any [city] that ignored or otherwise failed to honor” the efforts of federal immigration authorities.

New York City is one of several cities around the country that has pledged not to cooperate with federal immigration officials.

Along with Stringer, several City Council members and Public Advocate Tish James spoke at the rally, condemning Trump and vowing to protect New York's Muslim and immigrant population. 

"A threat to any of us is a threat to all of us," James said, slamming Trump's administration as "too male, too pale and too stale."

Jabbing Trump as "the guy who had no one show up at his inauguration" and "didn't win the popular vote," Stringer declared that he stands with Muslims "as a Jewish American," to screams and roars from the crowd.

"Donald Trump, you idiot, don't you understand Economics 101? This town can't live and operate and function without the immigrant community," Stringer said at the rally.

"Immigrants earn $100 billion in this city. That's billions of dollars in taxes. Immigrants own 83,000 businesses in New York City. Yes, small stores and restaurants, but here's what's great: 44 percent of immigrants are in finance, 50 percent are in medicine."

Upper West Side City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, noting that she and her colleagues are in the midst  vowed not to pass any budget that relies on federal money "at the risk of losing our immigrants."

"We are prepared to run this city without federal dollars," Rosenthal said.

And City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who earlier Wednesday held her own press conference against Trump's initiatives, lashed out at the president as "highly insecure."

"Someone with that level of insecurity, now with all of this power, can be a lethal combination," she said.

She also warned that Trump's actions provoke venom around the country against immigrants and Muslims.

"He continues to scapegoat all of us and that increases the anger and the hatred and the hate crimes," she said.