Immigration & BorderLocal NewsCity of El Paso Has Bused Over 1,000 Noncitizens to Sanctuary Cities Since August

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser claimed the program is different than the one pursued by Gov. Greg Abbott, which has so far bused 11,000 people.
September 20, 2022
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Gov. Greg Abbott’s program to send noncitizens to sanctuary cities like New York and Washington D.C, part of Operation Lone Star, has had a mixed reception.

Since the program began, Texas has bused over 11,000 noncitizens to sanctuary cities. The operation recently sent two buses of noncitizens to Kamala Harris’s home in Washington, drawing attention from the media.

The busing program’s purpose is to “spotlight sanctuary city hypocrisy” and lighten the load of the thousands of daily illegal immigrants passing through Texas borders.

New York City mayor Eric Adams called it “horrific” and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said it was “decidedly unpatriotic and un-American.”

Amid the criticism of Operation Lone Star, one Texas city has pursued a similar path without receiving the same media attention.

The Texan Tumbler

El Paso, a Democratic-led city, shares a border with Mexico and has long been inundated with migrants, mostly from Venezuela. In August, 8,400 people crossed through El Paso on their way to host cities throughout the United States.

City leaders claim that at 900 new noncitizens per day, the influx is straining their city.

In late August, federal immigration officials said that if the city could not house them, some would be released onto the street.

Due to the lack of infrastructure required to house them, El Paso began chartering buses to send noncitizens to New York and other cities around the United States.

According to city officials, El Paso has sent over 1,000 noncitizens to New York since August 23 and is continuing to charter buses as long as the flow continues.

Funding for the buses is paid for by the El Paso Office of Emergency Management and reimbursed by the federal government.

El Paso passed an emergency ordinance in May of this year allowing the city to “[use] the expenditure of public funds for staff to… transport migrants released in the City of El Paso [for the] valid public purpose of protecting public infrastructure, and protecting the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of El Paso.”

“This is not an El Paso thing, it’s a federal issue. We are assisting the federal government in this program,” Democratic Mayor Oscar Leeser said during a city council meeting.

Leeser claims that this program is entirely different from Abbott’s, saying, “What we’re doing is not to be compared to what’s going on in the state of Texas. We need to take politics out of what’s going on.”

He also discussed the program on ABC, stating, “The people are not coming to El Paso, they are coming to America.”

“We talk to them and we say, where do you want to go? What’s your destination? We help them get where they want to go. 50 percent of the people coming do not have a sponsor, they don’t have money,” he continued.

Last week, the city council approved a $2,000,000 contract with a charter bus company and has already spent $400,000 on the program.

El Paso is not the only Texas city to pursue a noncitizen transportation program. San Antonio has spent over $1,000,000 on its Migrant Resource Center, which services the over 600 daily noncitizens passing through the city.

One-third of that money has gone towards plane and bus tickets for these noncitizens to go to their city of choice. San Antonio, like El Paso, expects reimbursement from the federal government.

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Hudson Callender

Hudson Callender is a reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of San Antonio, Texas. Hudson recently graduated cum laude from Trinity University with majors in Economics and Political Science, and loves to study ancient history. Hudson is also an avid mountaineer, backpacker, and paddler, often leading trips to remote wilderness areas. Outside of his love for nature, history, and Lone Star beer, Hudson spends his weekends arguing with his friends about football, and will always stick up for the Baylor Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and San Antonio Spurs.

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