Texas governor sends migrants to New York City as immigration standoff accelerates

Greg Abbott, a third-term governor in the November elections, has sent more than 6,000 migrants to Washington since April in a broader effort to combat illegal immigration

Sofia Ahmed and Ted HessonReuters
Published : 5 August 2022, 04:01 PM
Updated : 5 August 2022, 04:01 PM

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, said on Friday he has started to send buses carrying migrants to New York City in an effort to push responsibility for border crossers to Democratic mayors and US President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

The first bus arrived early on Friday at the city's Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. Volunteers were putting groups of migrants in taxis headed to a nearby intake centre, where they said some would be processed for admission to city homeless shelters.

Abbott, who is running for a third term as governor in the November elections, has sent more than 6,000 migrants to Washington since April in a broader effort to combat illegal immigration and call out Biden for his more welcoming policies.

Abbott said New York City Mayor Eric Adams could provide services and housing for the new arrivals.

"I hope he follows through on his promise of welcoming all migrants with open arms so that our overrun and overwhelmed border towns can find relief," Abbott said in a statement.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, another Republican, has followed Abbott's lead and bused another 1,000 to Washington.

US border authorities have made record numbers of arrests under Biden although many are repeat crossers. Some migrants who are not able to be expelled quickly to Mexico or their home countries under a COVID-era policy are allowed into the United States, often to pursue asylum claims in US immigration court.

New York City Mayor Adams' office has in recent weeks criticised the bussing efforts to Washington, saying some migrants were making their way to New York City and overwhelming its homeless shelter system.

On Friday the mayor's Press Secretary Fabien Levy said Abbott was using "human beings as political pawns," calling it "a disgusting, and an embarrassing stain on the state of Texas."

Levy said New York would continue to "welcome asylum seekers with open arms, as we always have, but we are asking for resources to help do so," calling for support from federal officials.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has also said her city's shelter system has been taxed by migrant arrivals and last month called on the Biden administration to deploy military troops to assist with receiving the migrants, a request that has frustrated White House officials.

A US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had declined a request for DC National Guard to help with the transportation and reception of migrants in the city because it would hurt the troops' readiness.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
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