Texas begins busing migrants into Philadelphia

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday that his administration has begun trucking migrants in his state to Philadelphia, the latest Democrat-run city hit by his plan to use distressed migrant families as political props .

In a statement, the Republican governor announced that Pennsylvania’s largest city will now be a destination for asylum seekers who are being brought from Texas — usually without proper communication about what to expect — to Democrat-run jurisdictions that bill themselves as safe havens for look at migrants. Abbott has been running this plan for months, targeting New York City, Chicago and Washington, DC

“Since April, Texas’ bus strategy has successfully provided much-needed relief to our border communities, overwhelmed by the historic influx of migrants caused by President Biden’s reckless open borders policy.” Abbott said in the statementreferring to President Joe Biden’s refusal to maintain some Trump-era immigration restrictions.

“Biden, until the Biden administration does its job and provides sustainable border security for Texans and the American people, Texas will continue to do more than any other state in the nation’s history to defend against invasion along the border, including creating more sanctuary cities like Philadelphia as drop-off points for our bus strategy,” the statement said.

For years, Republicans have dubbed migrant crossings “invasions” to stoke fears of immigrants, often black or brown, seeking safety and opportunities in the United States they didn’t have in their own countries. Critics say the term dehumanizes migrants and makes them targets for violence — which happened in 2019 when a man with extremely racist and anti-immigrant views killed nearly two dozen people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

Some immigration restrictions under former President Donald Trump included Title 42 and “Remain in Mexico.” Title 42 is a public health order that immigration authorities have used during the pandemic to turn migrants away over COVID-19 concerns. The Remain-in-Mexico policy required some migrants to await the decision on their US asylum applications in Mexico. Biden ended the remain-in-Mexico policy, and a federal judge blocked Title 42 on Tuesday.

“We have a process in place to manage migrants at the border,” Biden said in September. “We’re working to make sure it’s safe, orderly and humane. Republican officials should not interfere in this process.”

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney confirmed Wednesday that 30 Texas asylum seekers will be arriving in the city and said the city will “greet our newly arrived neighbors with dignity and respect.”

“It is disgusting that Governor Abbott’s administration continues to implement their willfully cruel policies of using immigrant families as political pawns,” Kenney tweeted.

The mayor said the city created the Philadelphia Welcoming Fund to enable residents to contribute to local efforts to welcome immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers coming to Philadelphia. The funds will be made available to local non-profit organizations that support incoming immigrant communities.

Tiffany Burrow of the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition told The Texas Tribune that the group has already arranged for nonprofits in Philadelphia to meet migrants upon arrival and direct them to local resources.

Abbott began his bus schedule to send a political message to Biden in response to the growing number of border crossings. According to the US Border Patrol, nearly 2.4 million migrants were arrested on the US Southwest border this fiscal year. The number of migrant arrests last year was 37% higher than the previous year and more than double the 2019 level.

More and more migrants are coming from Venezuela to flee political violence and economic turmoil there. In October, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new route for migrants fleeing Venezuela to legally relocate to the United States returned to Mexico and barred from legal entry into the United States.