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Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito: ‘We stand up for what is right’

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito gave

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito gave her last State of the City address on Feb. 16, 2017. Photo Credit: John Roca

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito on Thursday decried the policies of President Donald Trump, and promised that city lawmakers would strike back against federal immigration policies and guarantee women free birth control that the GOP has promised to restrict.

“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 in her fourth and final State of the City address, delivered before an audience of nearly 2,000 at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn.

In a nearly hourlong speech, Mark-Viverito promised that the City Council would push legislation to block Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency from accessing city records and data to “track down and harm law-abiding New Yorkers.” She also wants to ban immigration agents from public schools and city facilities where social services are provided unless they have a court order.

“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 blending English and Spanish.

The city’s three million immigrants, she said, “are members of our New York family.”

She said the proposed legislation would bolster what the council did in 2014, when it passed legislation booting immigration enforcers from Rikers Island, New York City’s main jail complex, and restricted the city’s cooperation with the federal enforcers.

“We will not waste city resources to help immigration authorities locate otherwise law abiding New Yorkers who pose no threat to public safety,” she said. “We will not be a pawn in that game.”

Mark-Viverito, a Democrat who had endorsed Trump foe Hillary Clinton, has criticized him since soon after he declared his long-shot candidacy in 2015.

When Trump was the Republican front-runner Mark-Viverito called him a “disgusting, racist demagogue who has no business running for president, period.”

Trump’s spokeswoman, in turn, criticized her stewardship of the city with Mayor Bill de Blasio: “Perhaps she should focus on taking care of the filthy conditions of New York City, the ever expanding homeless population and lowering taxes, along with Mayor de Blasio, widely considered the worst mayor in the United States.”

Months later, when decade-old audio leaked of Trump boasting about grabbing a woman’s genitals without permission, the Puerto Rico-born Mark-Viverito held a news conference to say, on the verge of tears, that she felt compelled to reveal that she had been molested as a child. She added that she “would feel uncomfortable” around any Trump supporter.

On Thursday, Mark-Viverito said the City Council plans to push a measure to guarantee free birth control access to New Yorkers who currently are not eligible to free access under their health insurance plans. The Affordable Care Act currently requires insurers to provide the access to free birth control. But there are exceptions, and the speaker’s spokeswoman said the plan would fill in the gap for thousands currently not covered.

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

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