Austin mayor accused of illegally crossing border during Tornillo visit

U.S. Border Patrol said Mayor Steve Adler, along with about 10 other people, crossed the U.S. / Mexico border illegally during a visit to the Tornillo immigrant detention facility. The mayors traveled to the facility in late June to see the conditions immigrant children separated from their parents at the border were being kept in. 

“We politely asked the federal authorities for access to the facility to make sure the kids were okay. That was denied,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference Wednesday. 

After failing to gain entry into the facility, de Blasio, Adler, Austin City Councilman Greg Casar and four other people, got into a car saying they wanted to go get a better view. “My security detail raised this issue to the border agents, said that we wanted to get a different view of this ‘tent city.’ The border agents consulted with their supervisor and they agreed. They let our cars cross the American border into Mexico at a normal checkpoint,” said de Blasio.  

A letter obtained by Fox News from a U.S. Border Patrol agent to New York City Police Department accuses the group of violating U.S. laws because of what he said happened next. 

The letter explains a border agent saw the group walking in the Rio Grande River flood plain toward the Tornillo port of entry. The agent reportedly asked if the group was authorized by border patrol personnel to be there. The document said de Blasio's security detail from NYPD told the agent the group crossed the Rio Grande River to get to that location without authorization from border agents. 

According to the letter, "the agent informed the group that they had illegally crossed the United States/ Mexico border."  He also "ordered the group to remain in place" so he could get a supervisor and transport them to a port of entry. The letter states, "disregarding the agent's order, the group departed the area and illegally crossed back into Mexico." 

De Blasio denied the accusations. 

“While we were there, we were told where the border line was and we respected it,” de Blasio said. “We came back the exact same way both times, showed passports, went through with the approval of the agents at the entry point. At no point did we disregard any instructions from federal authorities,” he added. Adler also disagreed with the claims.

"We were never detained. I wish the border agents were devoting all this effort to reuniting children with their families, as the courts have required. If this is an attempt to intimidate or silence such calls, it won't work," he said in a statement. 

Councilman Greg Casar's office told us he agrees with the mayor's statement about what happened. 

The group was able to re-enter the U.S. in a car at the Tornillo Port of Entry. 

Border patrol did not respond to requests for additional information.