Migrants Volunteer to Get Bused From Texas to Washington Texas Governor Greg Abbott signs a declaration during a press conference at the Texas Department of Public Safety Weslaco Regional Office on April 6 in Weslaco, Texas. Abbott says the state will provide migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border bus charters to Washington, D.C. (Joel Martinez/The Monitor via AP)
By Charlie McCarthy | Tuesday, 26 April 2022 10:23 AM
About 200 migrants had been transported from the southern border to Washington, D.C., under Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's plan as of Monday, the New York Times reported.
The migrants came voluntarily and formed only a fraction of the thousands crossing the U.S.-Mexico border daily, the Times reported Tuesday.
Abbott, R-Texas, announced earlier this month that he was directing the Texas Division of Emergency Management to transport migrants released from federal custody in Texas to Washington and other locations outside the Lone Star State.
The first bus with migrants arrived in the nation's capital on April 13.
Abbott said his goal was to draw attention to what he and other Republicans describe as the failed immigration policies of President Joe Biden during a period of record crossings along the southwest border.
The governor's decision to bus migrants to other cities came in response to the Biden administration saying it planned to end Title 42 deportations by May 23, though a federal judge in Louisiana said Monday that he intended to rule that U.S. authorities cannot immediately proceed with plans to lift the pandemic restrictions that empowered U.S. border agents to turn back migrants.
Migrants who arrived in Washington, D.C., on Thursday met with volunteers at a nearby church-owned coffee shop.
"I am very thankful to the governor. His help is very much welcomed," Reydel Grau, a Cuban who traveled three weeks to reach the U.S., told the Times.
Santo Linarte López, a migrant from Nicaragua, told the Times he did not understand why Abbott was paying for him to travel north, but he was grateful.
"Imagine, how much would it cost to get from here to all the way over there," he told the Times.
During a news conference Thursday, Abbott said his decision to bus people to Washington "was to alleviate the strain that's put on the local communities along the border. I'm going to take the border to President Biden."
Some progressives say Abbott's plan fits into the Biden administration's immigration strategy which includes working with state and local governments and nonprofits to provide support, assistance and transportation to transport migrants in a humane and orderly way.
"In a way, it's actually perfect," Bilal Askaryar, a spokesman for Welcome With Dignity, told the Times. "Unintentionally, Governor Abbott sent them to one of the best places in the nation to welcome people."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics showed that 221,303 migrants were encountered at the southern border in March — the highest monthly total recorded in more than 20 years.