Report: Biden Pressured El Paso Mayor To Cover Up Border Crisis

The administration feared a state of emergency would make Biden look bad

Immigrants near El Paso and President Joe Biden / Reuters and Getty Images
October 18, 2022

The Biden administration urged the mayor of El Paso, Texas, not to declare a state of emergency over the border crisis because it would make the president look bad, the New York Post reported Monday.

Democratic mayor Oscar Leeser said in a phone conversation last month that the Biden administration pressured him into not declaring a state of emergency over the crisis, a city council member told the Post. Thousands of illegal migrants have poured over the border and into El Paso, filling up the city's shelters and hotels and straining its services.

As a record-breaking two million illegal immigrants have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border since last October, the Biden administration has faced widespread criticism for its handling of the crisis. Vice President Kamala Harris, who is ostensibly in charge of the administration's response, has only been to the border once. Customs and Border Protection commissioner Chris Magnus, an advocate for "sanctuary cities," prioritizes addressing "allegations of racism and violence" over policing the border, agency officials have said.

El Paso is spending at least $8 million on the migrant crisis but has only received $2 million in federal funds, the Post found. If Leeser had declared a state of emergency, El Paso likely would have received "state and federal funding to open additional shelters for housing migrants."

Texas congressman Tony Gonzales (R.), whose district includes parts of El Paso and straddles a large portion of the Texas-Mexico border, told the Post that the White House has done "the same thing in other parts of my district."

The administration's crisis cover-up is "sleight of hand," Gonzales said—"pressuring the local government to not issue a declaration of emergency … as if everything is going OK."

Leeser is one of several border officials, Democratic and Republican, to bus migrants to blue-state sanctuary cities. The El Paso mayor said last month that New York City mayor Eric Adams (D.) green-lit the busing program, a charge Adams has denied as he criticizes Republicans for the buses.

Leeser declined the Post's request for comment. The White House did not respond to a Post request.