New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol are currently in a war of words that may have legal consequences for the firebrand Democrat politician. According to a letter from the chief patrol agent for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector, Aaron Hull, to New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill, Border Patrol agents approached a group of individuals on the Rio Grande River flood plain south of the official border entry point that were taking photographs of a detention center. According to the letter from Border Agent Hull, “U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the United States Border Patrol take violations of law very seriously.”
When the agents approached the individuals and inquired how they had arrived at the location, t a New York Police Department inspector merely “pointed to Mexico.” According to the letter from Agent Hull, “The agent informed the group that they had illegally crossed the United States/Mexico Border at a place other than a designated port of entry and that this was a violation of federal law.” The agent also ordered the group, which included a security team from the New York City Police Department, to remain in place. However, the group disregarded the order and walked across the river and back into Mexico. According to the letter, the agent had left to contact a supervisor and conduct the group to an official entry point as per federal law.
Denying that any illegal crossing took place, according to AP, de Blasio’s spokesman Eric Phillips denied the claim. “Any suggestion otherwise is a flat-out lie and an obvious attempt by someone to attack the Mayor because of his advocacy for families being ripped apart at the border by the Trump Administration.”
On June 21, De Blasio was among approximately 40 other mayors who sought to visit a detention center in El Paso, Texas, where illegal immigrants are being detained for legal processing. Border officials denied the mayors’ request for a tour. De Blasio apparently expected to be rebuffed, saying at a news conference at the time,“We fully expect to not be told the truth, we fully expect to be turned away the way senators and congressmen have been turned away just trying to get the honest truth about what’s happening to these children just as all of you have been doing.”
De Blasio claimed that border agents approved his crossing into Mexico after his security team inquired so that he and other elected officials could get another perspective on the detention center. He claimed that border agents asked their supervisor before allowing the officials’ cars to exit and return via normal checkpoint. “While we were there, we were told where the border line was and we respected it,” said de Blasio. The NYC mayor claimed that they showed their passports on two occasions and crossed with border agents’ approval at the entry point. “Threats by the Trump Administration will not stop me from speaking out and they won’t stop my fellow mayors from speaking out, and they won’t stop every day New Yorkers and Americans from speaking out,” de Blasio said at a press conference.
De Blasio denounced what he called the Trump administration’s “inhumane policy” regarding illegal alien youths. “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 focus off a policy literally called ‘family separation,’ they’re trying again to distract.”
“While there, we were told where the border line was and we respected it. We came back the exact same way, both times showed passports and went through with the approval of the agents at the entry point,” de Blasio said on Wednesday. “At no point did we disregard any of the instructions from the federal authorities.”
De Blasio is an inveterate critic of Trump and his immigration policies. For example, when Trump was elected, de Blasio proclaimed that he would protect all illegal immigrants in New York City. On Wednesday, de Blasio said, “Here’s my message to President Trump, and it’s a message I can say on behalf of the people of his hometown. We simply won’t stand for this. We won’t stand for a policy that separates children from their parents. I won’t stand for it. This is the ultimate city of immigrants.” He continued, saying, “So I won’t stand for it and I won’t be silenced. And I won’t accept any effort to intimidate.”
At the press conference, de Blasio did not address accusations that he had walked across the border.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.