EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser has pushed back against reports that the Biden administration pressured him not to issue an emergency declaration for the thousands of migrants crossing the border and being released in El Paso.
The New York Post on Monday reported that the White House pressured Leeser due to fear it would make President Joe Biden look bad.
“I don’t take the pressure; I do what’s right for the community,” Leeser said in an interview with KTSM 9 News on Tuesday.
Leeser said during a City Council meeting on Sept. 27 that the White House did ask that an emergency declaration not be issued.
“The White House has asked at this point for us not to do that,” Leeser said during the council meeting.
KTSM asked Leeser about the comment he made last month.
“They’ve asked me not to do it, yeah, because that’s what we agreed on doing, you know. Like I said, if someone knows me, they know that someone wouldn’t pressure me to do something because I wouldn’t do it,” Leeser said.
“It’s unfortunate. Politics keeps coming back into it, and what is the gain for them to pressure the City of El Paso to do something like that, none. But there is a lot of gain in working together,” Leeser said.
Leeser told KTSM that not issuing the declaration was the right choice.
“It was the right decision to do and we are nowhere near now, that we have to do it as the numbers continue to become manageable and we are hoping that the crises will be something behind us,” Leeser said.
As KTSM reported last week, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new enforcement guideline that Venezuelans who cross the border illegally would be expelled back to Mexico under Title 42.
According to Leeser, the number of migrants crossing from Mexico to El Paso was significantly less on Tuesday.
East Side City Rep. Claudia Rodriguez has been urging the mayor to issue an emergency declaration, saying she had a private phone conversation with the mayor about his conversations with the White House in September.
“I was expressing my concerns to him and asking him to declare and he said at this point he was not going to declare, that he was in constant communication with the White House and that the White House had asked him not to declare and so had Congresswoman Escobar and the issue was that I was floored by that answer,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez continues to bring up her concerns about the financial responsibility falling back on El Paso
“Using money from the general fund to operate this whole situation that the federal government should be responsible 100 percent is unacceptable and this is why I have been ringing the alarm since May,” Rodriguez said.
On the same day DHS announced that Venezuelans would be expelled under Title 42, the City of El Paso received the promised $2 million from the federal government for upfront costs related to migrants.
Meanwhile, the city is still in the process of submitting reimbursement requests for the more than $6 million spent during the last quarter for the migrant surge.