When Congress voted to penalize "sanctuary cities" in June of 2017 for protecting undocumented immigrants, New York Rep. Dan Donovan voted no.
"The bill that was passed took money away from the men and women on that stage today who protect us, took away federal grants for law enforcement and security," Donovan said. "That was not the proper penalty
Now, the congressman may be trying to reverse course.
"It's a direct penalty for the violation that the city of New York is not participating with the federal government on immigration laws," said the congressman, who represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn.
On Monday, Donovan unveiled a new proposal to strip funding away from "sanctuary cities" if those cities do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. Instead of targeting anti-terrorism funding, like the 2017 proposal, Donovan's bill would take away funding for correction officers' salaries.
"He's going to be tough on 'sanctuary cities' when he originally voted against it?" said Michael Grimm, the former congressman who is running against Donovan in the Republican primary.
It's a play, it's a trick, it's a gimmick — whatever you want to say."
The move comes as Grimm capitalizes on Donovan's 2017 vote — one considered to be "anti-Donald Trump."
A mailer from the Grimm campaign hit Staten Island mailboxes last week. It slammed Donovan's vote, claiming he supports undocumented immigrants, not local families.
"He's getting crushed because here on Staten Island, people do not want a 'sanctuary city.' They wanted him to vote to ban it," Grimm said. "He didn't. He voted against it. And now he realizes he made a big mistake."
Donovan's new legislation follows a new poll by Democrats, which conveniently found Grimm was 10 percentage points ahead in the primary race. Observers believe Democrats are hoping Grimm wins in June, thinking he will be a weaker opponent in the general election.
"The poll was conducted by the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] who would much rather have their candidate run against a convicted felon and a perjurer," Donovan said. "I don't blame them for that."
"I have said this ad nauseam to so many different groups: I am the only one who can beat the Democrat now," Grimm said.
On the Democratic side, the leading contender, Max Rose, is also capitalizing on this poll. He sent out a fundraising email Monday saying Grimm would win the GOP primary and he would be ready to take him on.