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New York Leaders Voice Opposition To Trump's Policies

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Donald Trump is the first president-elect from New York in decades. And he's getting a Bronx cheer of a reception from leaders in New York State and New York City, even as they grapple with how to keep the president-elect and his family safe. NPR's Joel Rose reports.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: The president-elect has conducted much of his transition from Trump Tower, high above Fifth Avenue, while New York City officials scrambled to set up a security perimeter on the streets below.

DERRICK WATSON: Well, I never expect this would happen - that's for sure (laughter).

ROSE: Derrick Watson (ph) is visiting a friend who works inside Trump Tower. He thinks city officials were caught off guard by Trump's surprising victory and had to work quickly to throw up metal barricades, concrete barriers and screening stations around Trump Tower.

WATSON: They have to find a better way to get the traffic move for this going to be a while, not just for a couple days.

ROSE: While New York's leaders are scrambling to protect the president-elect, they're also promising to protect New Yorkers from his policies, especially on immigration, where Trump has promised to deport millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally. Here's New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaking last weekend at a church in Harlem.

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ANDREW CUOMO: We will stand up for the rights of immigrants because we believe our diversity is a strength, not a weakness. And if there is a move to deport immigrants, I say, then start with me.

ROSE: Not to be outdone, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a speech the following day.

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BILL DE BLASIO: If the federal government wants our police officers to tear immigrant families apart, we will refuse to do it.

ROSE: That could set up a direct conflict with the Trump administration. During the campaign, Trump promised to block funding for so-called sanctuary cities.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAMPAIGN RALLY)

DONALD TRUMP: We will end the sanctuary cities that have resulted in so many needless deaths. Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars.

ROSE: There's no legal definition of sanctuary cities, but the term generally refers to jurisdictions where local law enforcement does not fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities. There are dozens of such cities around the country, including several in New York. The state's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, disputes the idea that these policies are making the country less safe.

ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN: The notion that driving immigrants back underground and ending a program like sanctuary cities is going to make us safer is absurd. It makes us all less safe. When people are hiding, they don't come forward to report crimes. They won't volunteer to be witnesses.

ROSE: Schneiderman says his office is on the lookout for scams targeting immigrants who are fearful of being deported. New York leaders don't sound worried about the possible consequences of fighting the Trump administration, but there could be a lot of federal funding at stake for New York City alone.

DOUG MUZZIO: It's got to be in the billions if not tens of billions of dollars. It's of that magnitude.

ROSE: Doug Muzzio teaches political science at Baruch College in New York. He says Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo should think carefully about picking a fight with the president-elect.

MUZZIO: Donald Trump proved in this campaign to be an absolute master of the media, a one-on-one media battle either with de Blasio and Trump or Cuomo and Trump (inhaling sharply) - I'm picking Trump.

ROSE: Still, New York's leaders seem to be spoiling for a fight.

Joel Rose, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.