Texas busing migrants: Those on bus sent by Gov. Abbott to Chicago want to start new lives

Migrants are in D.C. and New York after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to bus them across the country.

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Thursday, September 1, 2022
Migrants sent to Chicago want to start new lives
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced he's sent his first bus of migrants from the Mexican border to Chicago as he did to NYC and DC.

CHICAGO -- Migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border are waking up in Chicago Thursday morning.

They reached Union Station Wednesday night, after being bused from Texas.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's office has said migrants are transported out of state only with their written permission. It is not clear what other options have been offered to the migrants.

WATCH: Texas spent $12 million to bus immigrants to other cities

Gov. Greg Abbott said he sent the first bus of migrants who have crossed the southern border to Chicago, as he's previously done to Washington, D.C. and New York City.

Now Chicago joins New York and Washington, D.C. in trying to give these people a new life. It was a reunion of pure joy for some.

One mother and father trekked from Venezuela with their two small children, looking to find family in Chicago and a better life. They were among the nearly 60 migrants who arrived in Chicago Wednesday night. The man said their journey was harrowing.

"We just left Venezuela, went to Colombia, going through the jungle in Panama," William Mijares said. "We were not treated like humans. We were treated like the worst kind of people in the world and we don't understand why, but that's the way they consider us."

Abbott announced Wednesday afternoon that he'd sent the first bus of migrants to Chicago.

For the migrants' safety, ABC13's sister station in Chicago, ABC7, blurred the faces of those who arrived in Chicago, unless they gave permission to show them.

In a statement, Abbott took a swipe at both President Joe Biden and Mayor Lori Lightfoot:

"President Biden's inaction at our southern border continues putting the lives of Texans -- and Americans -- at risk and is overwhelming our communities. To continue to provide much-needed relief to our small, overrun border towns, Chicago will join fellow sanctuary cities...as an additional drop-off location. Mayor Lightfoot loves to tout the responsibility of her city to welcome all regardless of legal status, and I look forward to seeing this responsibility in action as these migrants receive resources from a sanctuary city with the capacity to serve them."

The mayor's office said the city is happy to welcome the migrants and to provide them with food, shelter and protection, but added, "This is not new; Chicago welcomes hundreds of migrants every year to our city and provides much-needed assistance. Unfortunately, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is without any shame or humanity. But ever since he put these racist practices of expulsion in place, we have been working with our community partners to ready the city to receive these individuals."

One woman said she's a civil engineer, in search of a better life in the U.S.

Speaking in Spanish, she said, "It took two months to get here. All of my family is still there. The dictatorship, and there is no food. You can't live on a salary of $2 a month."

For others, what comes next is a little less certain.

"We just arrived to Texas and they got us onto our bus and they said someone was going to be waiting for us here, but that was not true," Mijares said. "I cannot say it was a nice trip, but it was better than what we had during our passing in South America."

Another man who said his name is William said he hopes to start a new life.

"I want to find a job, just to progress in a very safe country. That's what we want," he said.

Like so many people on these buses, he has six children and a family to provide for.

SEE RELATED: 'New York City is the ideal destination for these migrants:' Texas busing Mexicans to East Coast

After their arrival, the migrants were taken to a shelter in Chicago via CTA buses.

In a statement, Gov. JB Pritzker welcomed the migrants, citing that his great-grandfather came to this country as an immigrant fleeing Ukraine in 1881.

The state of Texas has spent more than $12 million busing migrants to Washington, D.C., and New York ,who crossed into the state from Mexico, according to figures from the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

A state government spreadsheet obtained by CNN through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that, as of Aug. 9, Texas has paid $12,707,720.92 to Wynne Transportation, the charter service that is taking migrants to the two cities.

In a news release Friday, Abbott's office said that "the busing mission is providing much-needed relief to our overwhelmed border communities."

It is usually the responsibility of released migrants to cover the cost of their travel throughout the U.S. as their asylum cases are pending in court. However the state-chartered border buses have been providing free rides to the north-bound asylum-seekers for months.

Texas has solicited private donations to help pay for the cost of the bus trips, but the state had only received $167,828 as of Aug. 17. At a news conference in April announcing the program, Abbott acknowledged taxpayers were likely to end up with part of the bill.

State agencies have provided conflicting figures for the exact number of migrants that Texas has bused out of state, ranging from 8,051 to 9,033. That amounts to a cost of at least $1,400 per migrant to transport.

The CNN Wire contributed to this report