Mayor Bill de Blasio is denying an allegation that he violated U.S. immigration law by crossing the border during a visit last month to Texas.
The allegation came to light in a letter from the U.S. Border Patrol to the NYPD, which manages the mayor’s security detail. The White House and Border Patrol did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
De Blasio, a critic of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, went to the U.S.-Mexico border with about 20 other mayors on June 21, the day after President Donald Trump signed an order stopping the separation of migrant parents and children trying to cross the border illegally.
De Blasio, a Democrat, said Wednesday the letter “is another attempt to distract from an inhumane policy.”
“You can tell when our federal government is doing something that’s hurting people, they don’t want that to be the focus of attention, so now trying to get the attention off of a policy literally called family separation,” he said while speaking at an unrelated event at a Brooklyn housing project.
The mayor said Wednesday he, his staff and security detail respected the border during the June visit to the border near El Paso. De Blasio went to a holding facility for immigrant children but was denied entry. He then went to Mexico and crossed into the United States to get a view of the facility.
“At no point did we disregard any instructions from the federal authorities — period,” de Blasio said, adding his security detail raised the issue to border agents.
According to the letter dated June 25, which was obtained by The Associated Press, a uniformed Border Patrol agent noticed a group on the Rio Grande flood plain south of the Tornillo, Texas, Port of Entry, taking photos of the holding facility. The agent asked if anyone from Border Patrol or public affairs was there to authorize their presence. An NYPD inspector said no, according to the letter, and when the agent asked the group how they arrived, they pointed to Mexico.
The agent told them they’d crossed the border illegally and asked them to remain there while he got a supervisor and took them to an official crossing for an inspection per federal law, according to the letter. But the group disregarded the order and drove back to Mexico, according to the letter.
“The border agents consulted with their supervisor and they agreed and they let our cars cross the American border into Mexico at a normal checkpoint,” de Blasio said, adding: “We came back the exact same way, both times, showed passports, went through with the approval of the agents.”
De Blasio decries ‘inhumane’ immigration policyA group of mayors from across the country planned to tour the Tornillo Migrant Children’s Facility, but they were denied entry.
De Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips said late Wednesday afternoon at City Hall that agents at the border reviewed, but didn’t stamp, the entourage’s passports.
The letter was sent June 25 by Aaron Hull, the chief patrol agent for the Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.