So much for the handshake.
Just days after Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito came to a public deal on an $85.2 billion fiscal 2018 budget with a handshake, the Council bucked the mayor by inserting a last-minute provision de Blasio has said repeatedly he doesn’t support.
The mayor wants to restrict funding for legal services for immigrants facing deportation to only those who have been convicted of minor crimes.
But the Council inserted an 11th hour provision that says the only criteria the city can employ in dispensing the funds — which total $26 million — is a defendant’s income.
The unusual move puts the mayor in the position of being strong-armed into accepting the Council’s condition, or having to veto a budget knowing that the Council would almost certainly have enough votes to override him.
“After three years of unabashedly supporting the [legal defense funding], it’s incomprehensible that Mayor de Blasio would turn his back on immigrant families and the city’s most vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Council spokeswoman Robin Levine.
“The speaker and City Council are fully committed to defending the integrity of this vital program and to upholding due process for all New Yorkers, which is why we have amended the budget to ensure continued, unrestricted access to legal services for all detained immigrants facing deportation.”
Only on Friday, Hizzoner had said he would not allow the $26 million allocated in the budget to pay for the defense of immigrants convicted of serious crimes — which come from of a list of 170 felonies maintained by the city.
He acknowledged that he had been unable to come to an agreement with the Council over their differences – but made clear that he intended to have the final word.
“The issue will be resolved in the contracting process… and the contracting process resides in the executive branch, so I’ll leave it at that,” the mayor said Friday during a ceremony celebrating the handshake deal he made with Mark-Viverito.
“I have very strong views I’ve made clear,” he added.
Asked about the Council’s maneuver, the mayor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Council officials said the prior four budgets included funding earmarked for the legal defense program through the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project.
They said there hadn’t been talk of restricting how the funds get allocated until this year, when the city’s cooperation with federal immigration officials came under a spotlight.
The list of 170 felonies delineates which convictions the city will cooperate with federal requests for detainee transfers.
As part of its sanctuary city status, the city does not cooperate with federal immigration officials on any other detainer requests.