NYC mayor says gang violence concerns in Mexico triggered eleventh-hour border trip cancellation

NEW YORK — Concerns about gang violence in Mexico prompted Mayor Eric Adams to call off a trip he was supposed to take to the U.S. southern border last weekend, he said Tuesday after days of few explanations from his office about the eleventh-hour travel cancellation.

Adams first announced in a radio appearance this past Friday he was going to the border the next day to meet with “national immigrant leaders” about issues related to the city’s migrant crisis. But on Saturday afternoon, his office said the trip had been canceled due to unspecified “safety concerns at one of the cities we were going to in Mexico flagged by the U.S. Department of State.”

In a Tuesday afternoon press briefing, Adams said the Mexican city in question is Reynosa, located near the Texas border. The mayor told reporters he made the call to scrap the Reynosa visit after U.S. State Department officials contacted members of his security detail Friday to say they were “concerned about this trip.”

“That city is going through some serious violence right now with gangs,” Adams said after noting that Reynosa’s mayor has recently fielded threats.

He said he was invited to go to Reynosa by Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, which helps migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. He said Pimentel “wanted us to come down and see what they were doing” and added he still plans to take the trip when conditions are safer.

Adams was expected to visit other cities on the trip, too, including on the U.S. side of the border. Asked why he didn’t just skip the Reynosa visit, he said, “We wish we had time to shift things around, but the time was not there.”

The State Department didn’t return a request for comment this week. An entry published on the State Department’s website in August last year cautions Americans against traveling in Tamaulipas state, which includes Reynosa, due to “organized crime activity” perpetrated by “heavily armed members of criminal groups.”

The mayor — whose penchant for visiting Turkey has drawn scrutiny from federal prosecutors as part of an investigation into his 2021 campaign finances — said in Tuesday’s briefing he has been contacted before by the State Department about travel.

“There have been times I’ve wanted to travel somewhere and the State Department has reached out and stated, ‘You should not go,’ going all the way back to when I was a police officer going to Moscow, that was during the time when Yeltsin was losing power,” he said, referring to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. “The State Department reached out and said we have questions about this trip, so I respect the State Department’s intel.”

An Adams spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a request for comment on what year he planned to visit Russia, with whom or what the purpose of that trip was. Yeltsin resigned in 1999 and was replaced by his handpicked successor, current Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Even though his border trip was off, Adams also canceled a Saturday morning appearance he was supposed to make at a church in Harlem. His office did not return a request for comment on why that appearance got canceled.