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Jersey City Debates Kushner Family Tax Breaks

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Activists in Jersey City, N.J., right there in New York Harbor, have targeted some real estate linked to President Trump's son-in-law. They want the Jersey City Council not to award tax breaks to three high-rise developments. The project involves the family of Jared Kushner, husband of Ivanka Trump and close adviser to the president. Here's Nancy Solomon of our member station WNYC.

NANCY SOLOMON, BYLINE: Jared Kushner's family business has just completed a 50-story apartment tower that licensed the Trump name. Jersey City gave the Kushners a five-year tax break. The company has a plan for three more high-rises that had been approved directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.

N. SOLOMON: About 30 members of a group calling itself Evict Trump-Kushner want the president and his son-in-law to divest from their business interests in Jersey City. One of the organizers, James Solomon, says until they do, they shouldn't be able to profit from their businesses in his town.

JAMES SOLOMON: Jared Kushner's chosen to keep his ownership interests in Kushner companies. He has not answered basic questions about how he intends to recuse himself. It's extremely disturbing because you don't know if they're in the White House serving the people or serving themselves.

N. SOLOMON: Kushner has stepped down as CEO of his company, but it's unclear whether he will fully divest. The group also says many of Trump's policies adversely affect the large number of immigrants and Muslims who live here. Oscar Velez grew up in Jersey City and is an elementary school principal.

OSCAR VELEZ: Can you imagine after raising all those divisions, all those racist sentiments, all those anti-immigrant statements, anti-Muslim statements, and now they want to come and profit from their development in the city? Well, sooner or later, some of us have to just stop and say enough is enough.

N. SOLOMON: There is no actual proposal for a tax break for the new development, but it's early in the process. This is an election year, and the activists are asking each member of the city council to pledge now to refuse one. After they spoke, one councillor jumped in to assure the group he wouldn't be supporting any tax breaks for Jared Kushner or Donald Trump. For NPR News, I'm Nancy Solomon in Jersey City, N.J. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.