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White House asked Democrat-led El Paso not to declare emergency over migrants

Migrant arrivals to the border city hit 2,100 a day last week.

October 18, 2022 1:47pm

Updated: October 19, 2022 9:37am

The Biden administration pressured the Democratic mayor of El Paso, Texas, to not declare a state of emergency over the city’s migrant crisis over fears it would hurt the president’s reputation, according to city officials.

Mayor Oscar Leesar told a city councilwoman that he’d been directed against issuing an emergency declaration in response to the thousands of migrants passing through the city every week.

“He told me the White House asked him not to,” Councilmember Claudia Rodriguez, a city official who has been pushing for a emergency declaration, told the New York Post.

Rodriguez added that Leesar promised to declare a state of emergency “if things got worse” but did not outline what exactly “worse” entailed.

The city averaged 2,100 migrant arrivals a day last week, according to information posted to the city’s immigration dashboard. More than 62,000 crossed the border at El Paso along between April and mid-September.

El Paso has been releasing migrants onto the street because local CBP facilities and NGOs are overwhelmed. It has sent around 10,000 refugees on buses to New York City, independent of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, in what the mayor has claimed in an agreement with the Big Apple’s Democratic mayor, Eric Adams.

Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Republican whose congressional district covers rural areas near El Paso, said he has heard similar accounts from other local officials.

“It is a sleight of hand what the administration is doing — pressuring the local government to not issue a declaration of emergency, to say as if everything is going OK,” Gonzales said, who added his district has also seen a spike in refugees.  

Leesar responded to the New York Post with a statement saying that he doesn’t “bow to pressure from any side” and made all decisions “based on current circumstances in the best interest of the citizens of El Paso.”