Washington — Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan was among four Michigan mayors set to hear from President Donald Trump at the White House on Wednesday afternoon.
Mayors Karen Weaver of Flint, Jim Fouts of Warren and Bryan Barnett of Rochester Hills were also on a list of guests provided by the White House. Barnett is the only Republican mayor among the four executives from Michigan expected to attend.
They were among roughly 100 mayors in the East Room at an event billed as a discussion about the economy, in addition to working with the mayors on the opioid crisis and rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, according to the White House.
“We have really hard-working, brilliant people in this room. I know so much about being a mayor,” Trump said, according to a transcript of the event.
Trump told the mayors he would announce next week in his State of the Union address a $1.7 trillion investment in infrastructure.
The gathering came amid the winter meeting of the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, where New York Mayor Bill DiBlasio, among others, decided to boycott the White House meeting.
Those mayors cited a letter sent to 23 cities Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice threatening them with subpoenas unless they provide documents showing whether local law enforcement are sharing information with federal immigration officials.
“An attack on one of our cities – mayors who are following the U.S. Constitution – is an attack on all of us, so I will not be attending the meeting,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, president of the mayors conference, told reporters.
“I do think, however, it’s perfectly acceptable that mayors who want to attend for their own particular reasons, who may have a difference of opinion on this, to actually go to the White House. Because, generally, as a matter of protocol, I think if you’re invited to the White House you should go.”
The White House defended the letter issued to cities including Chicago and New York, saying the administration “has been very clear that we don’t support sanctuary cities.”
“We support enforcing the law and following the law. And that is the Department of Justice’s job, is do exactly that. And if mayors have a problem with that, they should talk to Congress – the people that pass the laws,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said during her daily briefing.
Trump himself told the mayors in attendance at the White House meeting that the DOJ move was a “critical legal step,” criticizing those who skipped out.
“My administration is committed to protecting innocent Americans, and the mayors who choose to boycott this event have put the needs of criminal illegal immigrants over law-abiding Americans,” Trump said.
“But let me tell you, the vast majority of people showed up. Okay? The vast majority. Because the vast majority believe in safety for your city.”
Trump said his administration will “always support local government” and is “achieving absolutely incredible results,” citing job numbers indicating unemployment is at record lows.
Duggan last year expressed positive things about White House Chief of Staff John Kelly after meeting with him during Kelly’s March visit to the Detroit area.
Kelly’s visit focused in part on Trump’s immigration policies, and at the time Duggan said Kelly – then secretary of Homeland Security – told him he had no problem with the city’s stance, which is to not inquire about an individual’s citizenship status during traffic stops.
Duggan also told Politico last year that he’d run the Democratic nomination campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden if he decides to run for president in 2020.
Biden, a Democrat, was a major advocate and booster for Detroit during the Obama administration, making several visits and during its revitalization and helping it to land federal grants.