Mayor de Blasio backs out of mayors' meeting with President Trump after sanctuary cities announcement

EMBED </>More Videos

N.J. Burkett reports from Washington on Mayor Bill de Blasio's decision to skip a meeting with President Trump. (Left: AP Photo/Hans Pennink | Right: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the nation's capitol Wednesday, but after a Justice Department announcement, he's canceled his face-to-face meeting with President Donald Trump.

De Blasio was set to be among a group of mayors from around the country as part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The focus of the meeting was the nation's infrastructure, after the president had promised more than a trillion dollars in new funding. But at around 12:30 p.m., Mayor de Blasio tweeted that he would not be attending the meeting.

The Justice Department ramped up pressure on so-called sanctuary cities, like New York City, seeking public safety grant money, warning state and local officials they could be legally forced to prove they are cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

Officials sent letters to roughly two dozen jurisdictions threatening to issue subpoenas if they don't willingly relinquish documents showing they aren't withholding information about the immigration status of people in custody.

The department has repeatedly threatened to deny millions of dollars in important grant money from communities that refuse to share such information with federal authorities, as part of the Trump administration's promised crackdown on cities and states that refuse to help enforce U.S. immigration laws.

The 23 jurisdictions that received letters Wednesday include Chicago, New York, Denver, Los Angeles and the states of Illinois, Oregon and California. Officials said the places have been previously warned that they need to provide information about their policies to be eligible to receive grants that pay for everything from bulletproof vests to officer overtime.

Mayor de Blasio has been very critical of President Trump on many issues, even leading a rally across the street from Trump Tower last month, yelling "shame" in response to the GOP tax plan. The last time Trump and de Blasio met was at Trump Tower, when the president was the president-elect.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the conference president, said in a statement that "the Trump administration's decision to threaten mayors and demonize immigrants yet again - and use cities as political props in the process - has made this meeting untenable."

"The U.S. Conference of Mayors is proud to be a bipartisan organization. But an attack on mayors who lead welcoming cities is an attack on everyone in our conference," he said.

Still, many mayors did attend. In remarks in front of the group, Trump blasted those who had boycotted.

"My administration is committed to protecting innocent Americans and the mayors who choose to boycott this event have put the needs of criminal illegal immigrants over law-abiding Americans," he said.

----------
* More local news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

Related Topics:
politicsPresident Donald TrumpMayor Bill de BlasioNew York CityWashington D.C.
(Copyright ©2018 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)