Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.
Texas has spent more than $12 million sending busloads of migrants to East Coast cities, according to the Texas Division of Emergency Management. And on Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott’s office announced that it had begun busing migrants to Chicago.
Documents from the emergency management department show that the state has already paid a total of $12,707,720.92 to Wynne Transportation to bus thousands of migrants from Texas border communities to Washington, D.C., and New York City, CNN first reported.
A department spokesperson confirmed the total to The Texas Tribune on Wednesday.
The program to send migrants to the other cities is part of Abbott’s multibillion-dollar effort to curb border crossings. As a way of antagonizing President Joe Biden over his border policies, Abbott began in April sending migrants who volunteer to accept the rides to Washington. The move drew mixed reviews across the state and sent Washington officials scrambling to accommodate an influx of asylum-seekers. Abbott expanded the program in August, sending migrants to New York City, a move Mayor Eric Adams has called “inhumane.”
In total, more than 7,400 migrants have been bused to the nation’s capital, and over 1,500 have been sent to New York City, according to the governor’s office. Abbott’s office late Wednesday said Chicago will now also become a regular drop-off location.
“President Biden’s reckless open border policies have created an ongoing crisis,” Abbott’s press secretary Renae Eze said in a statement Wednesday. “Until President Biden and Congress do their jobs and secure our southern border, Texas will continue utilizing every strategy to address this border crisis and protect Texans.”
New York officials have said the city will continue to provide shelter to asylum-seekers. New York is required by law to provide same-day housing for any adult who requests it, regardless of immigration status. The city has contracted with emergency hotels and is also relying on volunteer groups to help provide clothing, food and shelter to the new arrivals.
New York officials have continued to call out Abbott as five more buses arrived at the Port Authority bus terminal this week.
“Governor Abbott has crossed the line by using innocent human beings for his political ends,” NYC Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Manuel Castro tweeted on Wednesday. Castro has also said the tactic is “fomenting anti-immigrant and anti-Latino hate.”
Meanwhile, Abbott has publicly chided Adams for calling New York a sanctuary city while also complaining about the new arrivals.
The full program is now LIVE for the 2022 Texas Tribune Festival, happening Sept. 22-24 in Austin. Explore the schedule of 100+ mind-expanding conversations coming to TribFest, including the inside track on the 2022 elections and the 2023 legislative session, the state of public and higher ed at this stage in the pandemic, why Texas suburbs are booming, why broadband access matters, the legacy of slavery, what really happened in Uvalde and so much more. See the program.