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NYC Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito outlines new laws to resist Trump agenda

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in an undated photo. Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

The head of the New York City Council on Thursday outlined a legislative plan to resist President Donald Trump by blocking his immigration agents locally and rallying sympathetic municipalities to oppose him nationally.

Delivering her fourth and final State of the City address, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also promised that the council would guarantee women free birth control that the GOP has promised to stop requiring insurers to provide.

“New York has always persevered, no matter the obstacle — whether defying a king in England or a president in Washington — we stand up for what is right,” Mark-Viverito said from the stage of the Kings Theatre Brooklyn, an ornate movie palace that opened in 1929.

In the 58-minute speech before nearly 2,000 spectators, Mark-Viverito promised to expand existing municipal restrictions on where the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency can operate on city property. She said the council would push for legislation to ban agents from operating in public schools and social service offices without a court order.

She said the council also intends to introduce legislation to conceal from agents personal information the city and its contractors collect — such as religion and immigration status — and to reassess whether the city should continue to retain the data.

“We will not let the federal government tarnish the trust we’ve built with immigrant communities, or impede the way this city functions,” Mark-Viverito said in a speech that blended English and Spanish. The city’s three million immigrants, she said, “are members of our New York family.”

The legislation would bolster what the council did in 2014, when it passed rules booting immigration agents from its outpost on Rikers Island, New York City’s main jail complex, and restricted the city’s cooperation with the federal government.

Mark-Viverito said the council and the National League of Cities will host a meeting in April with municipal leaders from around the country to discuss how cities can adopt some of New York City’s policies, such as municipal IDs issued to people regardless of whether they are in the U.S. illegally.

The speaker, a Democrat, also said the council would move to centralize the public schools’ sexual education curriculum, and wipe out warrants from unanswered summonses that are 10 years or older for petty offenses like open containers of alcohol in public.

On Thursday, Mark-Viverito said the City Council plans to push a measure to guarantee free birth control to New Yorkers who currently are not eligible for free access under their health insurance plans. Trump’s Republican allies would eliminate any birth-control mandate in insurance plans, as required by the Affordable Care Act.

Said Mark-Viverito: “We will not let the federal government dictate what happens to our uteruses.”

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