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Texas governor busing migrants to various US states. Why?

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Sep 14, 2022 - 11:39 AM

HOUSTON, United States (AA) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott continues to bus thousands of migrants crossing the Texas-Mexico border to other parts of the country and has become a lightning rod when it comes to the immigration issue in the US.

Over the past five months, Abbott, a Republican, has expanded his busing strategy by sending migrants not only to Washington, D.C., but also to New York and Chicago, all large cities run by Democratic mayors.

“Governor Abbott is drawing attention to a national issue and not allowing the Biden administration to sweep the immigration problem under the rug,” said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.

Jones told Anadolu Agency that Abbott is putting pressure on Democrats to reevaluate the problems of US immigration policies while stoking a hot button issue that appeals to his voter base, as the Texas governor himself is up for reelection during the upcoming midterms, where he faces a formidable Democratic opponent in Beto O’Rourke.

As of early September, Abbott had sent almost 250 busloads totaling nearly 11,000 migrants from Texas to New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. to the dismay of those cities’ respective mayors.

Just last week, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a public health emergency, announcing the city would spend $10 million to create an office to help coordinate the arrival of migrants.

In addition, because of Abbott’s busing plan, House Democrats last Friday called on Congress to provide $50 million in federal funding to house and feed migrants being bused from Texas and Arizona.

Arizona, which is only sending buses to Washington, D.C., has so far sent 46 buses carrying 1,677 migrants.

What is Abbott’s stance?

Abbott put the federal government on notice about the border crisis and US immigration policies when he decided to bus migrants to New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., saying it was because of “President (Joe) Biden’s continued refusal to acknowledge the crisis caused by his open border policies.”

Jones said it was an effective strategy for Abbott to give Democrats “a little burden of illegal immigration to give you what a taste of it is like.”

He explained that Biden for the most part has ignored the border problem and “essentially made it a third-tier issue” but emphasized that Abbott’s play is forcing Democrats “to put some skin in the game” and “put your money where your mouth is” when it comes to dealing with immigration.

What countries are these migrants coming from?

The migrants originate mostly from Latin American countries including Mexico, El Salvador and Brazil, in addition to Caribbean nations such as Haiti, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

The governor’s office listed a total of 34 countries overall where these migrants are coming from, which also include African nations Nigeria, Ghana and Congo, as well as Afghanistan and Iran.

Jones emphasized that the number of migrants being bused to New York, Chicago and D.C. is a “drop in the bucket” compared to what’s happening in Texas.

“These Democratic cities have gotten a few thousand immigrants in a few months, where the problem in the state of Texas is measured by hundreds of thousands per month,” he said.

When did the governor start sending these migrant buses?

Abbott announced the first busload of migrants on April 13, when he sent them from Texas to Washington, D.C.

On Aug. 5, he announced New York City as the next destination, highlighting that Mayor Eric Adams has boasted about his sanctuary city policies.

“I hope he follows through on his promise of welcoming all migrants with open arms so that our overrun and overwhelmed border towns can find relief,” said Abbott.

On Aug. 31, Chicago was tapped as the third city for migrant busing.

What is the breakdown of migrants being sent to DC, NYC and Chicago?

Abbott has relocated nearly 11,000 migrants over the past five months.

More than 7,900 have been transported to Washington, D.C. on nearly 200 buses.

Over 2,400 have been bused to New York City on close to 50 buses.

Nearly 400 have been sent to Chicago on about five buses over the past two weeks.

Despite public outcries from those cities, Jones said Abbott’s plan is what would have been done anyway by nonprofit organizations or by family members trying to help these migrants get to a bigger city.

“No one comes to the United States to stay in border towns like Laredo, Del Rio and Brownsville,” said Jones. “They’re going where their friends, family and relatives are, like Chicago, D.C. and New York.”

What are civil rights groups saying?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked the federal government in August to investigate Abbott’s migrant busing policy, including their detention at the border.

“This disparity may lead to migrants being held on federal property in conditions that are not in compliance with the (standards) and that may be dangerous,” the ACLU said in a statement.

Jones said the conditions of busing migrants from Texas are actually better than if they had to find transportation themselves.

“They have a more comfortable ride, they are treated better, and they are well-fed on this trip as opposed to those going on their own,” he said.

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