FederalImmigration & BorderIssuesLocal NewsPhiladelphia Becomes Latest Destination for Gov. Greg Abbott’s Busing Program

The city of El Paso ended its busing program in October after a new federal policy concerning Venezuelan illegal immigrants.
November 18, 2022
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Gov. Greg Abbott’s office announced this week that noncitizens could voluntarily be bussed to Philadelphia in addition to Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

The governor repeated his contention that Texas is shouldering too much of the cost of the record level of illegal immigration reported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

“Since April, Texas’ busing strategy has successfully provided much-needed relief to our border communities overwhelmed by the historic influx of migrants caused by President Biden’s reckless open border policies,” Abbott said in a news release.

“Until the Biden Administration does its job and provides Texans and the American people with sustainable border security, Texas will continue doing more than any other state in the nation’s history to defend against an invasion along the border, including adding more sanctuary cities like Philadelphia as drop-off locations for our busing strategy.”

According to statistics provided by Abbott’s office, the state has sent at least 8,300 noncitizens to the U.S. capital, 3,700 to New York City, and 1,200 to Chicago. The state even sent a group of noncitizens to a location near Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence.

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency in October and lashed out at Abbott and other elected officials who sent noncitizens after the rush of people began to deplete the city’s resources.

“Our right-to-shelter laws, our social services, and our values are being exploited by others for political gain. New Yorkers are angry. I am angry too,” Adams said at the time.

“We have not asked for this. There was never any agreement to take on the job of supporting thousands of asylum seekers. This responsibility was simply handed to us without warning as buses began showing up. There’s no playbook for this, no precedent.”

Adams’ assertion is exactly the point Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are seeking to make with their states’ busing programs — that jurisdictions near the border bear the brunt of illegal immigration, without sufficient help from the federal government and so-called sanctuary cities that advocate more lenient immigration policies.

Abbott unveiled the program in April, later clarifying that anyone transported by the state would go voluntarily and must carry federal paperwork provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The city of El Paso had its own busing program, but in light of a new federal policy concerning Venezuelan illegal immigrants, the city ended it and closed a city shelter for noncitizens on Thursday, October 20.

“The recently announced DHS policy has significantly lowered the number of asylum seekers reaching our border, we have closed our welcome center as it is no longer currently needed, and the new policy provides the majority of asylum seekers we were assisting — if they qualify — an opportunity for a legal pathway into our country as well as the opportunity to apply for a work visa,” Democratic Mayor Oscar Leeser reportedly said.

El Paso began busing noncitizens out of state after thousands of Venezuelans started crossing illegally into the city in August. City officials warned the federal government that they might have to start making noncitizens live on the streets.

On its website, the city indicates that it received 13,062 noncitizens from CBP and the “total migrants served” at its city shelter were 19,329. The total cost to the city from January through October is estimated to be $9.52 million, only $2.2 million of which has been reimbursed. A total of 10,713 noncitizens went to New York City and 3,259 were transported to Chicago, per the city.

In early October, the U.S. government instituted a policy that allows 24,000 Veneuelan nationals who meet certain criteria to be legally admitted into the country. All others who cross illegally are expelled automatically. CBP ascribed a sharp drop in illegal immigration by Venezuelans to the new rules.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."