Wednesday, July 18News That Matters

New York City Mayor Fends Off Illegal Border Crossing Claims

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke with an officer from the Federal Protective Service at the port of entry in Tornillo, Texas, last month.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke with an officer from the Federal Protective Service at the port of entry in Tornillo, Texas, last month.


Adria Malcolm for The Wall Street Journal


New York City Mayor

Bill de Blasio

denied accusations by Customs and Border Protection that he illegally crossed the U.S. border while visiting Texas last month to protest the detention and separation of migrant families.

“It is another attempt to distract from an inhumane policy,” Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said Wednesday at a news conference in Brooklyn.

The mayor said he followed protocol and respected border regulations, adding that the allegations are “ridiculous.”

“I will not sit idly by as the president rips children from their families, and I will not let him continue his efforts to destroy the lives of these young people,” Mr. de Blasio said, referring to

Donald Trump.

Customs and Border officials sent a letter to New York Police Department Commissioner

James O’Neill,

saying Mr. de Blasio and his security detail—which is run by the NYPD—broke laws in Mexico and the U.S. by crossing the border.

Mr. de Blasio traveled to Tornillo, Texas, with other mayors from around the U.S. on June 21 in hopes of touring a tent city housing children who had been separated from their parents at the border. The families were separated and detained under Mr. Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy for illegally crossing into the U.S.

Mr. de Blasio was denied access to the facility and wasn’t provided a tour. As a result, he and Mayor

Steve Adler

of Austin, Texas, crossed into Mexico to get a better view of the U.S. facility, a New York City Hall official said. Mr. Adler’s office confirmed the visit.

Customs and Border Protection said Mr. de Blasio’s team crossed from the U.S. to Mexico through a legal checkpoint, according to another city official who was briefed on the agency’s letter.

However, Customs and Border Protection said Mr. de Blasio broke U.S. law when he entered the detention center property from Mexico. He then violated Mexican law when he left the U.S. facility and returned to Mexico, according to the letter.

It is unclear whether there will be any repercussions if it is determined the crossings were illegal.

The Customs and Border Protection didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Eric Phillips,

a de Blasio spokesman, who went on the Texas trip, said the group had the approval of border security to cross. “The mayor crossed the border with the direct approval and under the supervision of the border patrol supervisor at this port of entry.”

Mr. Trump has since issued an executive order ending the practice of separating families. In late June, a federal judge ordered the government work to reunite migrant toddlers and infants with their families within two weeks, and all of the children within 30 days. The government missed its first deadline, which prompted a judge to order faster reunifications.

Write to Zolan Kanno-Youngs at

Corrections & Amplifications
Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at a news conference Wednesday in Brooklyn. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that it was Tuesday. (July 11, 2018)

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