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NYC Council Speaker: Solidarity Efforts Needed to Fight Trump as He Targets Muslims & Immigrants

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Donald Trump may call New York City home, but he is coming under increasing criticism from local politicians. We speak to New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito about her opposition to a Muslim registry and city efforts to protect undocumented immigrants living in New York.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I also want to bring into the conversation Melissa Mark-Viverito, the speaker of the New York City Council. A few weeks ago, she tweeted, quote, “If one day Muslims forced to register, that is day that this proud Boricua/Latina will register as a Muslim. #NeverIsNow #ExposeHate.”

Melissa, welcome to Democracy Now!


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Talk about that tweet.

SPEAKER MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO: Well, I mean, I think it just speaks to the lunacy—right?—the craziness that we’re experiencing right now, and the fear. Right? I’m not interested in normalizing the behavior and the attitudes that this president-elect is putting out there. And this idea of surveillance and these registries and building the walls are things that are really—you know, are just counter to our values, not only in New York City, but, I think, values that the majority in this country believe in.

So that’s why I said, you know, in order for us to really push back against what is being presented, we have to do solidarity work. Right? We have to really align ourselves, all of us, in rejecting the rhetoric and rejecting what soon will be actions that are going to be taken against particular members of our community. And so, that’s really what I was trying to say. I am going to be a very strong voice against what is being presented. I think our Democratic Party, of which I am a part of, needs to really reconfigure itself and re-envision itself and really serve as a countermeasure and a counteroffensive. And that’s why we need new leadership. There’s a lot of work yet to do, and I’m really interested in, you know, being part of that struggle.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about the New York ID and what that could mean?

SPEAKER MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO: Well, we’re in the process right now. Obviously, there’s a court hearing that’s being heard before a judge. But our interest has always been that we were not going to maintain the data—right?—that we are collecting on people, that have—the data is being kept confidential. We have no interest in sharing information.

AMY GOODMAN: And for people—


AMY GOODMAN: —who are watching and listening around the world, explain what the ID is and what it made possible.

SPEAKER MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO: So this is a municipal ID, so it’s an ID that is only valid in New York City. You cannot use it to travel. It is not, you know, authorized to be used as a federal ID. It is an ID that just validates you as a New York City—a member of our city. And so, it is available to people that are documented and not documented. It is available to people that are transgender. They can self-identify on the card. It is beneficial for the homeless individuals of our community and also for seniors. It is an ID available to everyone, regardless of your status. So, as of right now, the law that we have in place says that the information will be held for two years, and then we would destroy the data. And that is the interest—

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And since its creation, you’ve had close to a million people, right?

SPEAKER MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO: Correct. It’s about a million people that have signed up and that have this identification, which is officially recognized by the NYPD and is officially recognized within the city of New York. And it comes with a lot of benefits. But obviously, there are undocumented members of our community, in our city, that do have the ID, as well. So there is a concern—right?—that —what would happen under a Trump administration. So we’ve been working very actively and, obviously, using every legal recourse to make sure that we can destroy that information.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And so, the—under the law, it was supposed to be destroyed after two years?

SPEAKER MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO: Right, which is at the end of this year. And—

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And now there’s been a legal challenge to it? Or—

SPEAKER MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO: Well, we have a court date, a hearing, in the beginning of January, prior to the presidency of Trump going into place. So, we’re in the process of doing that. And, obviously, we’ll have our day in court.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about another issue, which is—well, Donald Trump, of course, being a resident of New York—the issue of Mayor de Blasio asking for—and you’ve been involved with this—federal government reimbursement for the cost of providing security for the president-elect—


AMY GOODMAN: —and soon, of course, to be president, at his New York home and offices, a figure that officials estimated would reach $35 million by the time of Trump’s inauguration, by January 20th.


AMY GOODMAN: Is some of the cost of this not only paying for security, but also paying Trump for the security to use his buildings?

SPEAKER MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO: Well, I mean, you remember that right now there’s a lot of overtime that the NYPD and other agencies, as well—FDNY, for instance, and other agencies are doing a lot of overtime to maintain a level of security that is needed. This is unprecedented. Right? We have never seen where this—where a president-elect has available a transition office in Washington, D.C.—right?—where this is obviously a normal part of occurrence, they know how to prepare for this; now he’s setting up residency, you know, in New York City and in Washington, D.C. This is—

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, not just in New York City, probably one of the busiest areas, right?

SPEAKER MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO: Right, intersections in the city. And so, obviously, there is a lot of overtime that we’re—it’s unsustainable, right? So, right now, we’re predicting $35 million—the federal government is only accommodating for $7 million in reimbursement—and then, once Trump becomes president, obviously, all the expenses moving forward. It is just really a drain, and it’s something that we need to be—get seriously addressed by the federal government. And it hasn’t been.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you for being with us—


AMY GOODMAN: —and ask you to stay with us, Melissa Mark-Viverito, speaker of the New York City Council, first Latina and first person of color to serve as New York City Council speaker. And we want to thank Naureen Shah for joining us from Washington, D.C. Naureen Shah is director of Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights Program. When we come back, we’re going to talk about yet another request for a pardon, this for a man who has been imprisoned for more than 30 years. Stay with us.

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