Immigration

'Political Games': Gov. Greg Abbott Buses Migrants to New York City

Gov. Greg Abbott has ramped up his anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Gov. Greg Abbott has ramped up his anti-immigrant rhetoric. Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images
On the first day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Gov. Greg Abbott described the level of migration at the U.S.-Mexico border as an “invasion.” Thousands of migrants have been transported to Washington, D.C., since Abbott directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to send them there in April. Also at CPAC, Abbott warned “there are more buses on the way."

The next day, the governor announced in a press release that a group of migrants had been bused from Texas to New York City. Abbott’s administration has been sending buses of migrants to Washington in response to what Abbott and other Republicans call President Joe Biden’s “open border policies.” Now, the governor is also sending them to New York City, Abbott says, to test its reputation as a sanctuary city.

“Because of President Joe Biden’s continued refusal to acknowledge the crisis caused by his open border policies, the state of Texas has had to take unprecedented action to keep our communities safe,” Abbott said in the press release. “In addition to Washington, D.C., New York City is the ideal destination for these migrants, who can receive the abundance of city services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams has boasted about within the sanctuary city. 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.”

"There are more busses on the way." – Gov. Greg Abbott

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Last week, Abbott invited New York Mayor Eric Adams and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser to the border. Adams declined. At a press event the same day the migrants showed up to the Big Apple, Adams called Abbott’s move “despicable,” according to Bloomberg.

“Governor Abbott is finally admitting to what we’ve known he’s been doing all along. His continued use of human beings as political pawns is disgusting and an embarrassing stain on the state of Texas,” Fabien Levy, Adams’ press secretary, said in a written statement to the Observer. “New York will continue to welcome asylum seekers with open arms, as we have always have, but we are asking for resources to help do so. We need Washington, D.C.’s, assistance in dealing with the cruel political games being played by inept politicians like the governor of Texas.”

Kate Huddleston, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, said Abbott’s move is just a means of distracting from “his own failure to address the real issues facing Texans like fixing the electrical grid.

“The governor is siphoning billions of dollars away from needed services into anti-immigrant political theater that stokes the flames of hate along the southern border and across the country,” Huddleston said in an emailed statement to the Observer. “White supremacist vigilante groups are moving into border communities while officials in South Texas peddle xenophobic conspiracy theories. Gov. Abbott’s actions, alongside the white supremacist rhetoric of ‘invasion’ that he uses to justify them, endanger migrants and all Black and Brown people in our state.”

All of this comes as the gubernatorial race heats up between Abbott, who's vying for a third term, and his Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke, a former El Paso congressman. A poll taken in June by the University of Texas/Texas Politics Project showed the race was narrowing with 45% supporting Abbott and 39% supporting O'Rourke.
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn