Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced on Wednesday that a busload of migrants from the state has arrived for the first time in Los Angeles, adding to the growing list of cities that have taken in migrants at Abbott’s order.
“Los Angeles is a major city that migrants seek to go to, particularly now that its city leaders approved its self-declared sanctuary city status,” Abbott said in a statement released Wednesday evening. “Our border communities are on the frontlines of President Biden’s border crisis, and Texas will continue providing this much-needed relief until he steps up to do his job and secure the border.”
According to the statement, the migrants were dropped off at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday evening. The arrival follows more than a year after Abbott directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to charter buses of migrants released from federal custody from Texas to Washington, D.C., as a means of addressing decisions made by President Joe Biden.
Last year, Biden announced he would end Title 42, a pandemic-era policy put in place during the Donald Trump administration that sent asylum-seekers back across the border to Mexico.
In his letter to the TDEM in April 2022, Abbott said that Biden’s move would result in an influx of thousands of migrants in Texas, which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “has no real plan for.” He added that Texas’ resources are “already overwhelmed” and the state would not be able to handle groups of migrants in Texas communities.
After more than 40 migrants arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Brass released a statement saying that the city has executed an emergency management plan developed in advance by local, state and federal departments along with nonprofit organizations.
“It is abhorrent that an American elected official is using human beings as pawns in his cheap political games,” Bass said in the statement. “Shortly after I took office, I directed City Departments to begin planning in the event Los Angeles was on the receiving end of a despicable stunt that Republican Governors have grown so fond of.”
Despite disapproval of Abbott’s plan, Brass emphasized that Los Angeles “seeks to treat all people with dignity and compassion” and “will not be swayed or moved by petty politicians playing with human lives.”
“For everything that we do, we will continue to lock arms and we will continue to lead. And we will always put people’s health and well being over politics,” she said.
Abbott has been busing migrants over the past year to other cities, including New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and, most recently, Denver. According to the Texas Tribune, the state has sent more than 19,000 migrants to these cities, prompting city officials to speak out.
Last month, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot wrote a letter to Abbott urging him to stop sending migrants to the city, which she described as a “dangerous and inhumane action.” Chicago has received more than 8,000 men, women and children from Texas since August and was facing a lack of shelter and resources.
“None of these urgent needs were addressed in Texas,” Lightfoot said, referencing how nearly all of the migrants were in dire need of food, water, clothing and medical care. “Instead, these individuals and families were packed onto buses and shipped across the country like freight without regard to their personal circumstances.”
Several groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as politicians have spoken out against Abbott’s migrant busing program. In April, the Texas Democratic Party said that Abbott is trying to “demonize immigrants.”
“For years, Texas Republicans have looked to the Southern Border as a wedge issue, creating a narrative that stirs up emotions but neglects the truth,” the Texas Democratic Party said in a statement.