On Fox News, El Paso mayor denies that the White House urged the city not to declare an emergency

Mayor Oscar Leeser: “I'm very thankful for all our partners that have helped us to make sure we didn't have to declare a state of emergency. ... We never got to that point and now we're nowhere near it today.”

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Citation From the October 19, 2022 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom

DANA PERINO (FOX NEWS ANCHOR): An El Paso, Texas, city council member claims the Biden administration urged the city's mayor not to declare a state of emergency over migration. Today's New York Post cover calls the situation a Tex mess claiming Biden officials pressured El Paso not to draw attention to border disasters. El Paso mayor Oscar Leeser joins us now. Thank you so much for being here. El Paso is one of America's great cities. It's a beautiful place, a vibrant place. What is the scope and scale of the migrant crossing situation in your city right now?

OSCAR LEESER (EL PASO, TX MAYOR): You know, thank you for having me on here, because that's something really important. I can tell you five days ago we were having about 2,200 a day. Now, today – this morning we had right at about 1,000. So the new federal program has really made a big difference, and, you know, I'm looking at the picture that you are showing on your camera which is not what we have today. It is not what we've had really in the last thirty days.

It's something that we've learned to adapt on a daily basis, and one of the things that we've done really well is to work with our federal partners, our Congresswoman Escobar, and everyone concerned to make sure that we treat people in a very humane manner, and one of the things I tell people and I look at them right in the eye and I say, you know what, the way we're doing it here in El Paso is we treat people the way you and I would want to be treated.

PERINO: Okay. So did the White House ask you not to declare a state of emergency?

LEESER: Absolutely not. You know, one of the things I'm very thankful for the White House, the federal government – have done a really really good job of working with us and helping us to make sure we get funding to be able to do the job that border cities are required to do. As a border city, we have responsibilities, and that's one of the things that we continue to do. One of the things we need to learn and really make sure we do is take the politics out of this. We have human lives, we have human people here. You know, I read the headlines. Democratic mayor. Yeah, I ran as a Democrat, but it's really important that once we run for office and we get elected, we take the R or the D away from our names and understand we have to represent 100% of the people that elected us.

PERINO: We have here from El Paso sending to New York City 11,000 migrants. I understand why, but the mayor here, he says he can't handle this and now that we have a tent that is going up to help take care of them, he has a similar view to you. We have to take care of the people that are here, but do you think the White House is doing enough to actually stop the flow? Because they're going to keep coming. Even if it was a thousand, that's a lot of people, and if they move on from El Paso, they're going across the country and we have this issue of the fentanyl problem. So are you satisfied with how the Biden administration is handling it?

LEESER: You know, this new program was going to take 7 to 10 days. The new program was just announced a little under a week ago, and it will continue. We were at 2200 a week ago. Today we're at 1,000, and I see it going down day in and day out.

PERINO: Can I interrupt just to explain that the program you're talking about? Is this the – for the Venezuelans to remain in Mexico?

LEESER: Yes, to be able to go online and apply for asylum and also apply for a work permit, and it's gonna make sure that they don't come across Mexico. They don't come across the country and they're not exploited and that they're safe, and that's something that's been really important to us and I'm very thankful -- 

PERINO: But, sir, what about all the people that are coming who are not from Venezuela?

LEESER: You know, that's one of the things that over 50% of the people today that have been coming were from Venezuela and now we'll continue to work with our federal government, we'll continue to make sure when it got over, you know, 1,000, 1,200, 1,500 – it was really important that our community stepped up, and the city manager, the office of emergency management, the NGOs, and everybody involved really stepped up to make sure the people were treated properly, and we opened up the welcome center to make sure that people were interviewed and taken care of, to make sure we helped them to go to the destination of their choice, not our choice, their choice, and we continue to do that. So that's been very important, and I'm very thankful to be the mayor of the city of El Paso in a city that really cares, and like I said, the sooner we all take the politics out of it and take the D and R away from what we're talking about, the better our community will be.

PERINO: Well, would you agree that one of the ways to take the politics out of it is to actually have the border be secure so that then we can all try to work on programs like increasing worker visas and things like that?

LEESER: Well, I can tell you that El Paso is one of the safest cities in America, and we'll continue to be the safest city in America.

PERINO: Alright.

LEESER: So I'm very thankful for the cooperation, and I'm very thankful for all our partners that have helped us to make sure we didn't have to declare a state of emergency, because that's something you have to take very seriously, and we never got to that point and now we're nowhere near it today.

*This headline was updated for clarity.