New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday he told Donald Trump during a private meeting that fear is gripping communities in America’s largest city over the U.S. president-elect’s vows to crack down on illegal immigrants.
The Democratic mayor and the wealthy Republican New York real estate developer traded insults during the campaign, but met for about an hour inside Trump’s skyscraper headquarters.
Afterward, de Blasio said he expressed his concerns about Trump’s policies toward immigrants, as well the need for tough Wall Street regulation and protecting the rights of racial and religious minorities.
De Blasio, who supported fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton against Trump in last week’s election, said the two men had a candid and substantive discussion.
De Blasio said he told Trump immigrant families should not be torn apart by deportations, and that the police tactic supported by Trump of stopping and searching people on the street can drive a wedge between minorities and law enforcement.
New York historically has been a city filled with immigrants. According to census data, 37 percent of New York City’s 8.6 million residents are foreign-born, far above the national figure of 13 percent.
“I tried to express to him how much fear there is – how much fear there is in communities all over this city,” the mayor told reporters outside Trump Tower.
During the campaign, Trump called for the deportation of all of the estimated 11 million immigrants in the United States illegally. Trump said in a TV interview aired on Sunday his priority was to remove up to 3 million immigrants who have criminal records or are gang members or drug dealers, and would decide on the others after the U.S. border is secured.
The mayor last Thursday said New York would remain a sanctuary city shielding illegal immigrants, adding that “we are not going to sacrifice a half million people who live among us, who are part of our community.”
Trump has said he may want to place some U.S. mosques under surveillance and suggested he may want to maintain a national database of Muslims. The New York Police Department has 900 officers who are Muslim, de Blasio said he told Trump.
The mayor declined to say what Trump’s responses had been.
“I think they both said it was a very productive meeting,” Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said separately, adding that the president-elect is open to speaking with a variety of people.
Trump during the campaign called de Blasio the worst mayor in America and in New York City’s history. The mayor during the campaign called Trump dangerous and “one of the worst demagogues in recent U.S. political history.”
Trump grew up in the New York City borough of Queens and still makes Manhattan his primary residence. Trump has not said whether he will continue to live part-time in New York after he takes office on Jan. 20.
De Blasio said he spoke to Trump about the importance of tough banking regulations and of tax cuts that do not favor the wealthy. Trump has promised a “dismantling” of the Democratic-backed 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law enacted following the financial crisis, and has promised deep tax cuts.
The mayor expressed some optimism that Trump would follow through on a campaign pledge to spend more on infrastructure.
Trump said during the campaign he would rebuild America’s infrastructure including highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools and hospitals.
“It would have a hugely positive impact on millions of New Yorkers, and hopefully put a lot of people back to work,” de Blasio said.