El Paso mayor says White House asked him to not declare an emergency over migrant uptick and he agreed it wasn’t necessary
The mayor of a Texas city that is home to thousands of Central American migrants, in the face of what he acknowledged was a direct request from the White House to not declare an emergency, said he agreed with the request and then publicly denounced it as soon as he read it.
Mayor Dee Muma’s response, in an interview with The New York Times, was stunning, but not surprising, given that the president has long sought to portray the humanitarian crisis in El Paso as a purely domestic issue. And Trump’s request to Muma, who was elected to lead a city of more than 300,000 people, to stay the course of his administration’s efforts to address the border surge comes at an uneasy time for him.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, President Trump suggested he might not take the oath of office because he would not accept the premise of the Constitution that said he was entitled to take office if the House of Representatives did not elect him.
On Saturday, Muma, the El Paso city manager, responded to the White House that he would not declare an emergency, even as the Border Patrol apprehended an average of 5,000 migrants a day in his city of more than 100,000 people. Muma was not asked during a recent town hall meeting by two immigration advocates what he thought about the White House’s request and declined to speculate.
In an interview on Sunday with the Times, Muma said that in the face of a direct request from the White House, he did not believe his city was losing control of the situation but said he agreed with the request.
“When I heard about the White House request, my first thought was, ‘This is a political matter for president Trump,’” Muma said, in a reference to the political implications of his refusal to declare an emergency. “But I was also, as you said, struck by the fact that I was the mayor of a small-town mayor of a town of a hundred thousand people where people in the community had lost their jobs, people in the community had lost their homes, and people were being displaced by the people coming to the border.”