Gov. Abbott staffer calls Biden admin 'hypocrites' over border response

Friday, December 22, 2023
Gov. Abbott staffer calls Biden admin hypocrites over border response
The White House is accusing Gov. Greg Abbott of having "extreme policies" that "dehumanize people" cross the southern border into the U.S.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The White House is now weighing in on the first flight of migrants Texas sent to Chicago, calling it a "political stunt" and claiming it just adds to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's "tally of extreme policies."

Abbott first began sending migrants via buses to democratically-led cities in April 2022.

Mark Jones, a Rice University political science professor, said the move to bus migrants was Abbott's way of forcing cities across the U.S. to better understand the struggles Texas is facing when it comes to the influx of people crossing the Southern border.

"(Gov. Abbott) realizes that the Biden administration isn't going to listen to a Republican like him, but that it may be much more likely to listen to a Democratic Mayor of Chicago or Governor of Illinois, or Mayor of New York," Jones said. "It puts pressure on Democratic governors and mayors because they now have skin in the game. They're actually bearing the consequences that Texas has been bearing for the past 10 years and they, in turn, will put pressure on the Biden administration to do more, to secure the border."

RELATED: Texas flies 120 migrants to Chicago as part of state's million-dollar operation

It didn't take long for Abbott's office to fire back at the White House's harsh words on Thursday.

Andrew Mahaleris, press secretary for Abbott, said in a statement to 13 Investigates that the state's border transportation mission is aimed at providing support to "overrun and overwhelmed border communities as the Biden Administration leaves thousands of migrants in Texas border towns."

Mahaleris called on President Joe Biden and his administration to "stop with the hypocritical complaints and do their jobs to secure the border."

"The White House is full of a bunch of hypocrites, including the President," Mahaleris said. "President Biden has been flying plane loads of migrants all around the country for years, oftentimes under the cover of night. Where was this outrage from President Biden after his reckless open border policies encouraged migrants to make the dangerous and illegal trek across the border, ultimately taking the lives of 850 migrants last year?"

ABC News reports that Monday alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents counted 12,600 new arrivals of migrants from the South.

Since April 2022, Texas has spent more than $89 million to send more than 1,200 buses of migrants to democratically-led cities across the U.S., according to the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

On Wednesday, Abbott announced the state has voluntarily transported nearly 83,000 migrants. More than 30,200 migrants were sent to New York City, at least 24,500 were sent to Chicago, more than 12,500 were bussed to Washington, D.C., 11,100 to Denver, and another 1,250 to Los Angeles, according to Abbott.

With migrants arriving by the bus load, earlier this month Chicago's city council passed an ordinance that would tow and impound buses not properly permitted and that do not drop off migrants in a designated landing zones.

Chicago has already utilized the ordinance by towing and impounding an unpermitted bus that traveled from Eagle Pass, Texas to Chicago with 49 passengers.

For the first time, Texas chartered a private flight of more than 120 migrants to Chicago on Tuesday.

Ana Maria Giordano, 35, was among the asylum seekers on that flight.

"We kept asking what was happening but the people at the airport didn't know," she said upon her arrival to Chicago. "They just asked us to remain calm and told us to stay inside the terminal so we wouldn't get cold."

This first flight, paid for by the state, is being viewed as a major escalation of Abbott's Operation Lone Star.

White House Spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández accused Abbott of using "people as political pawns."

"Yet again, Gov. Abbott is showing how little regard or respect he has for human beings. This latest political stunt just adds to his tally of extreme policies which seek to demonize and dehumanize people," White House Spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández said in a statement. "Gov. Abbott leaves migrants on the side of the road in the dead of winter, installs razor wire making it more dangerous for Border Patrol to do their jobs, and promotes extreme laws that will make communities in Texas less safe."

ABC News Immigration producer Armando Garcia said he expects Abbott to keep upping his fight with Democratic leaders outside of Texas.

"We do know that this is only just going to continue to escalate, especially as we see more influxes down at the Southern border," Garcia said.

Meanwhile, leaders in Chicago are upping their calls to President Biden to send more federal funds to aid in housing the migrants.

Chicago Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez and Illinois U.S. Representative Jesus "Chuy" Garcia gathered with other city and community leaders in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Building to demand more funding from the federal government, according to WLS, our ABC-owned station in Chicago.

"I support the call for additional resources from the federal government," Garcia said. "That is essential. It's critical for Chicago. It's critical for New York, for Houston, for all the other cities that are seeking to do everything that they can but they cannot do it alone."

For updates on this story, follow Kevin Ozebek on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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