AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — In a bold move by Republican Governor Greg Abbott, Texas has taken its busing operation to new heights by sending over 120 migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to Chicago. This is an escalation of a program that has already provided free rides to more than 80,000 migrants to Democratic-majority cities across the country since last year.
The first flight, which left from El Paso and arrived on Tuesday, was arranged in response to recent action taken by the Chicago city council. Mayor Brandon Johnson has expressed sharp criticism over the busloads of migrants and the tactics employed by the bus operators. As a way to avoid penalties such as fines, towing, or impoundment, these operators have resorted to dropping off people in neighboring cities.
“Yet again, Governor Abbott is showing how little regard or respect he has for human beings.” – Angelo Fernández Hernández, White House spokesman
To counteract this strategy, Chicago has implemented stricter penalties for bus operators who fail to unload new arrivals at the designated location or neglect to fill out the necessary city paperwork. According to Andrew Mahaleris, a spokesman for Abbott, these flights are a direct response to Johnson’s targeting of migrant buses from Texas.
“Until President Biden steps up and does his job to secure the border, Texas will continue taking historic action to help our local partners respond to this Biden-made crisis,” said Mahaleris.
Texas is clearly flexing its muscles in response to the ongoing immigration challenges and using innovative methods to address the issue. Whether these actions will lead to lasting solutions or further exacerbate the situation remains to be seen.
The White House Criticizes Texas Governor’s Migrant Policy
The White House has strongly criticized Texas Governor Abbott for his handling of migrants, accusing him of using them for political gain. In a statement, White House spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández condemned Abbott’s “extreme policies” that seek to demonize and dehumanize people.
As part of Abbott’s border mission called “Operation Lone Star,” over 23,000 migrants have been sent to Chicago on buses, according to the governor’s office.
In addition to the bus transfers, the operation has involved various measures such as stringing razor wire along the border, installing buoy barriers in the Rio Grande, and deploying more officers. However, a federal appeals court recently ordered the Biden administration to temporarily halt the cutting of concertina wire on the border due to an ongoing legal challenge.
Chicago Mayor Johnson’s office has yet to respond to the flights of migrants to the city.
Concerns have been raised about the living conditions and medical care provided to asylum seekers arriving in Chicago. These concerns were brought into the spotlight by the tragic death of a 5-year-old boy who was living at a temporary migrant shelter.
Other news related to immigration includes migrants being dropped near Vice President Kamala Harris’s home on Christmas Eve, Florida Governor DeSantis defending flying migrants to California while advocating for a closed border, and former President Trump doubling down on his beliefs that immigrants are “destroying the blood of our country.” There have also been warnings from Trump and Republicans about a possible wave of Gaza refugees heading towards the U.S., although this scenario is highly unlikely.