The Democrat mayor of El Paso, Texas, was pressured by the White House not to declare a state of emergency over the city's migrant crisis due to fear it would make President Joe Biden look bad, the New York Post reported.
Mayor Oscar Leeser told an El Paso council member the White House asked him not to declare an emergency, despite at least three of eight city council members urging him to do so.
"He told me the White House asked him not to," council member Claudia Rodriguez told the Post.
Rodriguez added Leeser repeatedly has assured her he would declare a state of emergency "if things got worse."
The mayor, though, did not explain what constitutes "getting worse."
El Paso already has seen thousands of migrants fill the city's shelters. Local hotels now are being used to house some immigrants, sources told the newspaper.
Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, whose district covers rural areas and border towns near El Paso, told the Post he had heard whispers the Biden administration was pressuring local officials not to declare emergencies over the migrant crisis at the southern border.
"It is a sleight of hand what the administration is doing — pressuring the local government to not issue a declaration of emergency, to say as if everything is going OK," said Gonzales, who added to the Post the White House has done "the same thing in other parts of my district."
Leeser declined to speak to the newspaper, but in a statement denied he had caved to Biden's team.
"I don't bow to pressure from any side," the mayor said in his statement. "I make decisions based on current circumstances and in the best interest of the citizens of El Paso," the statement said.
Leeser previously addressed the issue at a Sept. 27 city council meeting.
He said Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, had urged him not to declare a state of emergency, adding, "The White House has asked, at this point, for us not to do that, and they'll continue to work with us and continue to give us … money through [the] Federal Emergency Management Agency."
The Post reported El Paso has received only $2 million in federal reimbursements toward the $8 million it has spent dealing with the migrant crisis.
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