Gov. Greg Abbott expands Texas' migrant busing plan to Philadelphia

ByJames Barragán, The Texas Tribune
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
Texas bussing migrants: Gov. Greg Abbott sends immigrants to Philadelphia, DC, New York and Chicago
Texas has bussed migrants to D.C., New York, and Chicago for months to pressure the president's immigration policies, which Republicans say have led to record-high border crossings.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania -- Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday that Philadelphia has been added to the list of Democrat-led cities where Texas will bus migrants, with the first bus set to arrive in the Northeast city on Wednesday morning.

For months, Texas has sent buses of migrants to Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago in an effort to pressure Democratic President Joe Biden to stiffen his immigration policies, which Republicans say have led to record-high numbers of border crossings.

"Since April, Texas' busing strategy has successfully provided much-needed relief to our border communities overwhelmed by the historic influx of migrants caused by President Biden's reckless open border policies," Abbott said in a statement. "Until the Biden Administration does its job and provides Texans and the American people with sustainable border security, Texas will continue doing more than any other state in the nation's history to defend against an invasion along the border, including adding more sanctuary cities like Philadelphia as drop-off locations for our busing strategy."

Abbott's news release added that "Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has long-celebrated and fought for sanctuary city status, making the city an ideal addition to Texas' list of drop-off locations."

Kenney's office could not immediately be reached for comment.

Through Monday, Texas had bused 13,200 migrants to Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.

Abbott had been criticized by the leaders of those cities for failing to coordinate the arrival of the migrants. Yet Texas and city officials failed to communicate in the months after Abbott began sending the buses, leaving nonprofits to step up and coordinate the migrants' arrivals.

In a change to his previous announcements of new destinations, Abbott gave a public, one-day notice to the city of Philadelphia about the arrival of the buses. He also announced publicly where the buses would arrive: William H. Gray III 30th Street Station.

In the past, the migrants would be dropped off without notification, with city officials and nonprofits learning of their arrival on social media or conservative news outlets like Fox News.

But one of the nonprofits helping to coordinate the migrants' arrival said the arrival of buses to Philadelphia has been smoother. Tiffany Burrow of the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition said the buses left Texas last night with 31 people on board. Burrow said her group has already arranged for nonprofits in Philadelphia to welcome the migrants when they arrive in the city and guide them toward local resources. She said the city of Philadelphia has also been notified.

But of the 31 migrants on their way to Philadelphia, only three had the city as their final destination. The rest were planning to continue their travel to other states.

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RELATED: There are more migrant border encounters today than when Gov. Abbott's Operation Lone Star began

According to the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the state has spent over $12 million on trips to transport migrants.