MIDTOWN — New York City could lose billions of dollars in federal aid after a spokesman for President Donald Trump said the government will seek to cut funding to sanctuary cities.
"We're going to strip federal grant money for the sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during a press briefing Wednesday.
His comments came as Trump signed an executive order directing the director of Homeland Security "to look at... funding streams that are going to these cities of federal monies and figure out how we can defund those streams.
"The American people are no longer going to have to be forced to subsidize this disregard for our laws," Spicer added.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed that New York City will remain a sanctuary city — so called because NYC allows undocumented immigrants access to social services without having to reveal their status and refuses to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in deportation efforts.
"We have half a million New Yorkers who are undocumented and they are part of the fabric of this city," de Blasio said at an unrelated press conference in Downtown Brooklyn Wednesday morning.
De Blasio announced this week that he was setting aside a reserve fund inside the city's $84.67 billion preliminary budget in case Trump cuts federal funding.
New York City now has over $5 billion in overall reserves — the highest amount ever — but it is not enough to cover the more than $7 billion in federal aid that the city relies on to fight terrorism, provide affordable housing and fund the NYPD's anti-terrorism efforts.
While the mayor said there were no "Trump-specific adjustments in the budget," the added reserves were meant to be a cushion against possible cuts.
"Any reserve, in an emergency, can be tapped into," said de Blasio.
An audit by Comptroller Scott Stringer found that 11 city agencies which account for more than half of all city spending are heavily reliant on federal tax money.
The NYPD funds 61 percent of its $380 million counterterrorism and intelligence programs using federal money. Approximately 39,000 households receive fully funded federal Section 8 vouchers worth $481 million.
More than 600,000 New Yorkers rely on some form of public assistance grant totaling $1.5 billion. The federal government funds 38 percent of that amount.
Child protective services could lose half of its $247 million budget and almost all of the city's $194 million in HIV/AIDS prevention programs is funded by the federal government.
On Tuesday, de Blasio defended his stance against Trump's policies.
"I believe he respects strength and responds to strength, not weakness," said de Blasio.
City Hall did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding Trump's executive order.
Spicer said the more than 200 cities and counties which ascribe to the designation sanctuary cities will pay the price if they insist on remaining as such.
"Part of this is a directive to the secretary to look at those funding streams and then figure out how they can be cut off," said Spicer.