Texas Migrant Buses: Greg Abbott Expands Effort to Philadelphia; The first bus is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday morning


The Republican-controlled state government of Texas expanded its on Tuesday outreach efforts migrants released from federal detention centers to Democratic-run cities and announced it would send a bus with migrants to Philadelphia.

The announcement marks the latest escalation of a campaign by Texas Gov. Gregory Abbotta Republican to snub the Biden administration and its Democratic allies for the federal government’s handling of an unprecedented wave of migration along the U.S.-Mexico border over the past two years.

Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, Texas officials had already moved more than 13,000 migrants there Washington, D.C, NYC and Chicagothree Democrat-run cities with “safe zones” that state statistics say limit local law enforcement’s cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation officers.

Arizona also brought several thousand migrants to Washington, DC in September as part of a separate effort authorized by outgoing Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, for which Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis took credit several dozen Venezuelan migrants fly to Martha’s Vineyardhowever, has not announced any further operations since the incident sparked a public outcry, a criminal investigation and a civil suit.

Texas officials said the bus announced Tuesday is scheduled to arrive at the William H. Gray III 30th Street Station in Philadelphia on Wednesday morning. “Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has long partied and campaigned for refuge city status, making the city an ideal addition to the Texas drop-off list,” Texas officials said in a statement.

Immigration Border Crossings
A group of migrants stand near the border wall while a Border Patrol agent conducts a people count May 21, 2022 in Eagle Pass, Texas.

Dario Lopez-Mills / AP

In a statement late Tuesday, Kenney called Texas’ bus efforts a “troubling policy,” but he said Philadelphia officials and local humanitarian groups stand ready to welcome migrants “with dignity and respect.”

“Philadelphians know that diversity is our strength, and we want to recognize the generosity and compassion we’ve already seen from local residents and community partners since we were made aware of a possible bus arriving in Philadelphia,” Kenney said.

For months, Abbott, who comfortably won re-election earlier this monthsaid the migrant transportation campaign successfully drew national attention to the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, where federal officials reported nearly 2.4 in fiscal year 2022, a 12-month period ending Sept. 30 Millions of encounters with migrants were recorded.

Abbott and other Republicans have argued that the record arrivals at the border are due to the Biden administration being too lenient towards migrants entering the country illegally and rolling back tougher Trump-era policies such as a program , which requires migrants to wait in Mexico for their US asylum hearings.

“Biden, until the Biden administration does its job and provides sustainable border security for Texans and the American people, Texas will continue to do more than any other state in the nation’s history to defend against invasion along the border, including creating more sanctuary cities like Philadelphia as drop-off points for our bus strategy,” Abbott said in a statement.

While the Biden administration rolled back some Trump-era asylum policies, it has maintained the broadest border restriction in modern U.S. history to expel hundreds of thousands of migrants on public health grounds.

The directive known as Title 42 was released on Tuesday blocked by a federal judge who argued that it was improperly enacted. The verdict could be stayed by an appeals court.

The Biden administration and Democratic mayors, meanwhile, have portrayed Republican-led efforts to ship migrants to Democratic-run jurisdictions as a political stunt. Similarly, advocates have accused state officials of dehumanizing desperate asylum-seekers and using them as pawns in a political row with the federal government.

“It is truly disgusting to hear today that Governor Abbott and his administration continue to implement their willfully cruel policies of using immigrant families — including women and children — as pawns to shamelessly advance his distorted political agenda,” said Kenney, the mayor of Philadelphia, in a statement.

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