Two days ago I announced that the City of New York has filed suit against the federal government. We are challenging a provision of the recently enacted federal Welfare and Immigration law. This new federal law is part of an anti-immigration movement that can be seen throughout the United States, unfortunately.
Here in New York City we know the value of immigration. New York -- the greatest city in the world -- was built by the hands of immigrants and it continues to be built and strengthened by immigrants. New Yorkers know that any effort to eliminate immigration or unfairly burden immigrants could destroy the very process that is the key to New York and America's success.
That's why the City of New York has filed suit in federal court. Our lawsuit contends that the new federal law violates the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution by invalidating New York City's "Executive Order 124."
For those who may not know, "Executive Order 124" is New York City's policy regarding undocumented immigrants. This order was issued seven years ago by Mayor Ed Koch and then later reissued by Mayor Dinkins and then by me. "Executive Order 124" protects undocumented immigrants in New York City from being reported to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service while they are using City services that are crucial for their health and safety, and critical for the health and safety of the entire city.
I know "Executive Order 124" offends some people. They ask, "Why should we pay to provide services for illegal immigrants?"
The answer is, "It's not only to protect them, but to protect the rest of society, as well."
New York City is defending "Executive Order 124" in court because there are times when undocumented immigrants must have a degree of protection in order to avail themselves of crucial services. For example, parents fearful of being deported may not send their children to public schools. If they don't, a potential 60,000, 70,000, 80,000 undocumented children could remain hidden in apartments or be turned out in the streets. Not only would these children suffer irreversible damage, they could end up doing damage to the rest of society as well.
Similarly, illegal and undocumented immigrants should be able to seek medical help without the threat of being reported, possibly deported. While these people are sick, they're just as sick and just as contagious as citizens. They could possibly become a danger to public health if they were not able to seek health care services.
And I'm sure everyone can understand the practicality of wanting undocumented immigrants to feel comfortable reporting criminals to the police. Reporting criminals protects all people, citizens and non-citizens alike.
Joining me in defense of fair treatment for immigrants is a coalition of well-known individuals and organizations who oppose the anti-immigration forces in Washington and elsewhere. And over the course of the next several weeks, this organization will be formed and expand so that we can educate all Americans on all of the positive things immigration does for us.
America became the most successful nation in history because of our constant process of reform and revitalization, a process that is driven by immigrants who come here to create a better life for themselves and for their children. That's why anti-immigration movements always die out. As we have in the past, I believe we will return to the recognition that new Americans are good for our country.
Finally, as the Yankees continue to battle it out in the American League playoffs, let's unite and help them bring the World Championship back to the best and most exciting city in the world. This is a team that has the spirit of New York. It never says die and it never gives up and it always comes from behind. What a great message and what a great way to represent the city of New York, a city built by immigrants. Go Yankees!
From Gracie Mansion, this is Rudy Giuliani.