Mayor Bill de Blasio visited an El Paso child shelter on Thursday after promising to help the hundreds of migrant kids being held in New York without their parents.
At least six people traveled with him to Texas to join 12 other mayors in protest of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” border policy. They demanded entry to the shelter while admitting it was an entirely futile effort.
“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 said at the press conference.
The New York post describes how de Blasio, on a taxpayer-funded trip, led a procession of news cameras to the gate of the facility a “tent city” where an estimated 360 kids are housed. A guard blocked the entryway.
“Hi, how you doing? Mayor Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, is there a supervisor to talk to here?” he asked the guard, who did not respond. The lack of response prompted de Blasio to turn to the cameras to insist that he should be allowed in because he’s a mayor.
“Everyone who works here knows that a group of mayors from all over the country came here on behalf of our millions and millions of constituents to know what’s going on,” he said.
“And the fact is this is our federal government denying access, not allowing information and it’s not American. It’s crazy,” the mayor continued.
De Blasio said in an interview on MSNBC that the trip wasn’t a publicity stunt because his it is his duty as an elected official to ask questions about what’s happening elsewhere in the country.
“The fact is this is something the American people care about, de Blasio started. “How was our money being spent? Is it being spent in a way that we would feel comfortable with?” he asked.
“That is what public officials are supposed to ascertain. There is something eerie about a government agency saying we’re not gonna let the media in, we are not going to let public officials in. That would never fly in my city. I’ll tell you that much. New Yorkers would never stand for that. I don’t think Americans anywhere would stand for that,” the mayor said.
Despite Trump signing an executive order Wednesday to stop border-crossing children being removed from their parents, de Blasio said he “has not solved the problem.”
The executive order violates a 1997 consent decree saying that you can’t detain or imprison children for over 20 days. A court may therefore tell the administration that they can’t follow the new directive.
Speaking to press, de Blasio said “zero tolerance still exists. That’s breaking an American tradition of respecting people fleeing oppression. The families are not reunified. We don’t know when they’ll be. We’re going to fight for that but the hope is that people are demanding a change and it cannot be ignored. And if it won’t happen in Washington, we will make it happen.”