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Mayor Eric Adams visits Mexico City to discourage asylum seekers from coming to NYC

Mayor Adams reacts to border wall announcement from White House
Mayor Adams reacts to border wall announcement from White House 02:40

NEW YORK -- Mayor Eric Adams is in Mexico on a "truth" mission to discourage asylum seekers from coming to New York.

He also offered a candid assessment of why some migrants are destabilizing the places they settle in.

Adams visited the Basilica de Guadalupe where many migrants pray before leaving Mexico for the United States, then he embarked on a whirlwind series of meetings, saying so many asylum seekers have arrived in New York City that there's no more room at the inn.

"I say to those who are pursuing the American Dream, it should not turn into a nightmare," Adams said.

The mayor met with Sister Magda, who runs a shelter for migrant women and children and participated in a roundtable discussion with Mexican business leaders, but it was during a fireside chat about migrants with the CEO of AT&T Mexico that he made his most candid remarks about the problems facing American cities and business leaders, problems that are destabilizing cities.

"You're not going to be a big box chain store and ignore a large population of men in general, and specifically, they're coming to your cities, and don't think it's going to impact shoplifting, masked people that can be involved in stealing or doing something that's anti-social behavior. We must come up with a humane approach that can resolve some of the underlying issues," Adams said.

The mayor clarified his comments Thursday evening, insisting there is no evidence of an increase in shoplifting coming from migrants.

"Are there cases where migrants have been arrested for shoplifting? Yes, but that is not a rampant problem that we're facing," he said.

Watch CBS New York's talkback with CBS News contributor Enrique Acevedo

Mayor Adams kicks off 4-day tour of Latin America 03:58

Adams raced from meeting to meeting, hoping to generate media attention to discourage migrants from thinking New York City is the promised land.

"We are at capacity, and many people believe when you enter New York City, you're going to automatically have a job, you're automatically going to be living in a hotel and there's a climate that's there that's not a reality. Far too many people are living in congregate settings," Adams said.

As he raced from event to event, addressing members of the local assembly in Puebla or getting an honorary degree, the mayor never lost sight of his goal.

"When you see children making the long trek through a jungle and then having to live in conditions of congregate shelters ... It just makes it extremely challenging," Adams said.

Watch Marcia Kramer's report

Mayor Adams visits Mexico on mission to discourage asylum seekers 02:23

Meanwhile, Thursday night, in a stunning reversal from the president, the White House announced President Joe Biden is waiving 26 different laws and regulations to do what he vowed he would never do:  build a section of border wall.

The White House says 18-foot high steel panels will be installed along a 20-mile stretch along the Rio Grande in Texas, intended to stop large crowds of migrants from racing to the United States border, as was seen Tuesday night.

As a candidate, Biden made this campaign promise in 2020:  "There will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration."

But Thursday, the president said while he didn't want to build a wall, he has no choice because of a law Congress passed in 2019.

"They have to use the money for what it was appropriated. I can't stop that," Biden said.

When asked if he believes the wall works, the president said, "No."

"We are still looking through exactly what this means," Adams said in response to the news.

Adams insisted that whoever comes through the border needs to do it in an organized and safe fashion.

"We have heard from experts that if you do build up some form of wall, that people are finding dangerous ways to come through," he said.

The mayor will also visit Ecuador and Colombia, where he will go to the dangerous Darien Pass.

The mayor is paying his own way. Taxpayers will pick up the costs of his security detail.

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