The first bus of migrants arriving in Chicago from the southern border was announced by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Wednesday. According to Abbott, the migrants were dropped off at Union Station on Wednesday.
So far, the state has spent $12.7 million on free rides to sanctuary cities such as New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. According to Abbott’s office, he has provided voluntary trips to 8,900 migrants so far. Immigrant rights advocates, who are often opposed to Abbott’s border security initiatives, say those trips fill a critical gap – the high cost of transportation – for immigrants entering the country. As migrants enter the country, they often want to connect with relatives or friends who can help ease their transition.
Immigration rights experts say the Republican governor is cracking down on illegal immigration. At the same time, he is creating one of the nation’s most generous public assistance programs for immigrants entering the country as he expands his program to bus migrants into a third major metro, inciting a fresh feud with a new Democratic mayor.
Abbott started the bussing program as a protest against Biden’s immigration policies, and Abbott has sent migrants to major Democratic-controlled cities. Migrants were dropped off in Washington, D.C., and New York City by bus. According to Abbott, President Biden’s inaction at the southern border is putting the lives of Texans – and Americans – at risk. To continue providing much-needed relief to our small, overrun border towns, Chicago will join fellow sanctuary cities Washington, D.C., and New York City as an additional drop-off location.
In addition, Abbott said he hoped Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) would take responsibility for supporting migrants. Abbott said I look forward to seeing Mayor Lightfoot’s commitment that her city will welcome everyone regardless of legal status. These migrants receive resources from a sanctuary city that can serve them.
During her statement on Wednesday, Lightfoot said that her administration would work with community partners to ensure migrants were provided with food, shelter, and protection, but that they would not engage in the “racist practices” Abbott and his administration are currently engaging in.
This is nothing new; she said that Chicago welcomes hundreds of migrants every year and provides much-needed assistance. Unfortunately, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has no sense of shame or humanity. However, since he instituted these racist expulsion practices, we have been working with our community partners to prepare the city to receive them.
According to officials in New York City, Abbott’s busing initiative intimidated migrants by placing wristbands with barcodes on migrants.
While New York will continue to welcome asylum seekers, we also have a moral responsibility to denounce Governor Abbott’s behavior of dehumanizing people and inciting anti-immigrant hatred. According to Manuel Castro, the commissioner of immigrant affairs for New York City, Abbott was trying to incite anti-immigrant hatred.
While Castro and Lightfoot attempt to shame Abbott, others see the flip side. According to Abel Nuez, executive director of the Central American Resource Center, Abbott is the only state actor providing immigrants with a free benefit. A voluntary busing program, part of the governor’s Operation Lone Star initiative to slow the number of migrants crossing the border, may encourage migrants to travel through Central America and Mexico to reach Texas, Nuez explained.
Often, nonprofits try to provide transportation to immigrants to their desired destinations but lack funding to help everyone who needs it. Alternatively, if the migrant has the money, they can assist them in purchasing transportation.
The governor’s desire to score political points is making it easier for migrants to stay in the country, according to immigration experts.
The Migration Policy Institute’s director of communications, Michelle Mittelstadt, said that the bumper sticker policy had unintended consequences. Busing people to what the governor described as a “sanctuary” jurisdiction is likely to result in different outcomes in immigration court.
Meanwhile, city mayors criticized Abbott’s busing policy and said the influx had overrun their social services. Abbott noted that those same Democrats had dismissed Republicans who have raised the same concerns along the border. Last week, Abbott escalated his feud with New York Mayor Eric Adams by calling him a hypocrite in a New York Post op-ed.