A bus carrying migrants from along the U.S.-Mexico border arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday, the latest effort by Texas’ Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to transfer migrants who have been released from U.S. custody to Democratic-led cities.
Abbott said in a statement Wednesday that the migrants were dropped off at Los Angeles’ Union Station.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said that more than 40 people were bused into the city.
“This did not catch us off guard, nor will it intimidate us,” Bass said. “Now, it’s time to execute our plan. Our emergency management, police, fire and other departments were able to find out about the incoming arrival while the bus was on its way and were already mobilized along with nonprofit partners before the bus arrived.”
A group of nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles told CBS Los Angeles they were assisting the migrants. A representative from the Immigrant Defenders Law Center told reporters on Wednesday that “instead of treating them as political props, here in Los Angeles, we will treat them with the dignity that they deserve as human beings.”
The Los Angeles City Council last week approved a motion directing various city departments to take the steps required to become a “sanctuary city” for migrants.
In a statement on Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state “is in close communication with the County and City of Los Angeles, and our community partners. Together, we will make sure that the children and families who arrived are safe and welcomed.”
Abbott, meanwhile, issued a statement saying 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.”
Last year, Abbott began busing migrants from Texas’ border areas to Washington, D.C., and New York, Democratic-run cities that also serve as sanctuary cities for migrants. The state has said the migrants voluntarily choose to board the buses. Abbott later expanded the program to include Philadelphia, Chicago and most recently Denver. His office on Wednesday said that more than 21,600 people had been transported to these cities since April 2022.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in September 2022 that there had been no coordination with Abbott’s office, and has accused Abbott of using people as political pawns. Last month, Adams said the city has received more than 60,000 asylum-seekers, although that number includes migrants bused from Arizona and a separate program from El Paso, Texas. The migrants’ arrival has strained city resources, with officials struggling to provide housing and other services.
While the program has been decried by President Biden and Democratic leaders as a political stunt, Abbott and other Republicans have justified the practice as a reaction to what they call the failure of the Biden administration to deal with the “border crisis.” On Wednesday, Abbott insisted “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.”
The number of migrants encountered at the border has plummeted over the past several weeks following the end of Title 42, the pandemic-related border restriction that allowed U.S. authorities to quickly expel migrants on public health grounds. The number of daily arrivals peaked at around 10,000 migrants in early May, and has since dropped to around 3,000 per day.
Florida has also sent migrants to Democratic-led jurisdictions, including on flights to Sacramento, California, earlier this month. The move was criticized by California officials, with state Attorney General Rob Bonta calling it “state-sanctioned kidnapping.” Bonta said his office was investigating potential criminal or civil action “against those who transported or arranged for the transport of these vulnerable immigrants.”
Newsom also indicated that he thought Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis could be charged with kidnapping. In an interview with NBC News, Newsom accused Texas authorities of transporting people under false pretenses. He had already accused DeSantis for using people as “pawns” when a group of migrants were flown via private jet to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, for which DeSantis took credit.
DeSantis, who is running for president, in May signed an immigration bill that allocates $12 million more for transporting migrants, and said last week that “I don’t have any sympathy” for sanctuary jurisdictions.
“These sanctuary jurisdictions are part of the reason we have this problem — because they have endorsed and agitated for these types of open border policies. They attack the previous administration’s efforts to try to have border security,” DeSantis said. “And then what? When they have to deal with some of the fruits of that, they all of a sudden become very, very upset about that. Well, I don’t have sympathy for them.”