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New York moves to protect immigrants from Trump

In his campaign, Trump promised to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants from US
New York is one of 300 sanctuary jurisdictions in United States (AFP)

The New York attorney general moved on Thursday to protect immigrants from potential deportation under Donald Trump, issuing a raft of legal advice on the eve of the incoming president's inauguration.

The Republican billionaire, who takes office on Friday, has vowed to immediately deport or jail millions of undocumented immigrants and build a wall on the Mexican border.

His stance has girded liberal politicians into moving to protect immigrants, with Eric Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, the fourth-most-populous state in the country, the latest to act.

New York, which has an estimated population of 19.8 million, ranks second in the country in terms of the number of foreign-born workers, according to the state department of labour.

"New York has a long history of welcoming immigrants and embracing diversity. Now, more than ever, we must stand up for our values of inclusion and pluralism," said Schneiderman.

"Public safety relies on trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. No local law enforcement agency should have to undercut that trust just to carry out Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies," he said.

'New York has a long history of welcoming immigrants and embracing diversity' - Eric Schneiderman

One in five New Yorkers are immigrants, according to the American Immigration Council. The state is one of the most ethnically diverse in the country and an historic gateway for immigrants from virtually every part of the world.

Schneiderman's "legal roadmap" says New York authorities can refuse to enforce warrants not signed by a judge, and deny federal requests to hold any uncharged individual longer than 48 hours. 

Trump has also controversially vowed to scrap the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, which Barack Obama instituted in 2012 to allow more than 750,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the country as young children to live and work in the United States, without fear of deportation.

In his campaign, Trump promised to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants from the US and threatened to withhold funds from such places as New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles that act as “sanctuary cities,” as they are known.

There are an estimated 300 sanctuary jurisdictions in the United States.

Mayors of New York sanctuary cities on Thursday welcomed Schneiderman's move, and authorities in California have also girded themselves to fight any attempt by Trump to expel immigrants.

“We are not going to sacrifice a half million people who live among us, who are part of our community,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, referring to an estimate of the number of unauthorised immigrants living in New York.

“We are not going to tear families apart,” he added.

'We are not going to tear families apart' - Bill de Blasio

In addition, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has also vowed to establish a legal defence fund to ensure that all immigrants can get lawyers.

Schneiderman has been a vociferous opponent of Trump and brought a class-action lawsuit accusing the now-defunct Trump University of fraud, which ended in the president-elect agreeing to a $25m settlement in November.

Meanwhile, Trump disclosed on Thursday that he has tapped Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets American football team, to be his ambassador to Britain, in what may have been an inadvertent revelation.

The pick for envoy to Washington's closest European ally has not been officially announced, but at a leadership luncheon with congressional Republicans and incoming cabinet members he revealed his choice, calling out Johnson by name.

"The ambassador, Woody Johnson, Court of St James. Congratulations Woody," Trump told the assembled guests as lawmakers, officials and transition team members applauded.