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El Paso's Democratic mayor defies Biden, declares emergency over border crisis and influx of migrants

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John Moore/Getty Images

El Paso has finally declared an emergency over the border crisis overwhelming the west Texas city with migrants.

What is the background?

The Biden administration reportedly pressured El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser (D) for months not to declare a state of emergency over the border crisis, fearing that doing so would make President Joe Biden look bad.

"He told me the White House asked him not to," El Paso city councilmember Claudia Rodriguez told the New York Post in October.

The mayor appeared to deny the allegations — he told the Post that he does not "bow to pressure from any side" — but admitted at a city council meeting earlier in September that the White House, in fact, had been pressuring him.

The White House has asked, at this point, for us not [to declare a state of emergency] and they’ll continue to work with us and continue to give us … money through [the] Federal Emergency Management Agency," he said at that meeting, the Post noted.

What is happening now?

Leeser finally made the emergency declaration on Saturday.

"I said from the beginning that I would call [a state of emergency] when I felt that either our asylum-seekers or our community was not safe," Leeser said at a press conference, the Texas Tribune reported. "I really believe that today our asylum-seekers are not safe as we have hundreds and hundreds on the streets, and that’s not the way we want to treat people."

Officially declaring a statement of emergency will allow Leeser to leverage additional resources that will allow city officials to respond adequately to the thousands of migrants who are entering his city.

The El Paso Times reported:

El Paso Deputy City Manager Mario D'Agostino said the state emergency declaration would give the city more flexibility in operating larger sheltering operations and provide additional transportation for arriving asylum seekers. The city has requested additional personnel for feeding and housing operations, additional busing operations and state law enforcement.

The state of emergency comes just days before Title 42 — which has allowed the U.S. government to expel migrants quickly — is set to expire.

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