CHICAGO — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday announced the state has started sending charter buses of migrants from the Texas border to Chicago, joining Washington D.C. and New York City as drop-off points.
Since April, when Abbott announced the state's plan, there have been between 8,000 to 9,000 migrants sent out of state.
The first bus of migrants headed to Chicago arrived on Wednesday, according to the governor.
"President Biden's inaction at our southern border continues putting the lives of Texans—and Americans—at risk and is overwhelming our communities," Abbott said. "To continue providing much-needed relief to our small, overrun border towns, Chicago will join fellow sanctuary cities Washington, D.C. and New York City as an additional drop-off location. Mayor Lightfoot loves to tout the responsibility of her city to welcome all regardless of legal status, and I look forward to seeing this responsibility in action as these migrants receive resources from a sanctuary city with the capacity to serve them."
A spokesperson for Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot issued the following statement in response to Abbott's announcement:
"Today, the City of Chicago received confirmation that approximately 60 migrants were traveling to Chicago by way of Texas. Chicago is a welcoming city and as such has collaborated across various departments and agencies to ensure we greeted them with dignity and respect. We understand that many are fleeing violent, traumatic, or otherwise unstable environments. We will respond with essential services while these individuals navigate the next steps of their journey and our community partners have been working diligently to provide a safety net.
"As a city, we are doing everything we can to ensure these immigrants and their families can receive shelter, food, and most importantly protection. This is not new; Chicago welcomes hundreds of migrants every year to our city and provides much-needed assistance. Unfortunately, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is without any shame or humanity. But ever since he put these racist practices of expulsion in place, we have been working with our community partners to ready the city to receive these individuals.
"We know that racism, discrimination, and human cruelty have played a pivotal role in how immigrants are received within our borders, and we are still working to recover from the previous presidential administration, which encouraged this behavior. This is such an important moment for Chicago as a city has been a sanctuary for thousands of newcomers. We are welcoming them and we will not turn our backs on those who need our help the most."
The Texas Department of Emergency Management said the plan to bus migrants out of state has cost taxpayers more than $12 million. Abbott's office says migrants are only being sent with their written permission.
Critics of the plan, like University of Houston Law Center Associate Professor Daniel Morales, call the plan a stunt.
"The same logic occurred when he (Abbott) sent the National Guard to the border. There is no need for these exercises. They don’t help immigrants. They don't help the state. But they do get Greg Abbott some time on Fox News and that is what he wants," Morales said.
Abbott's office issued a statement saying the decision was made as part of a series of actions to secure the Texas border.
“Governor Abbott has taken unprecedented action to address this Biden-made crisis, deploying thousands of Texas National Guard soldiers and DPS troopers and allocating over $4 billion of Texas taxpayer money to secure our border, including building our own border wall, erecting strategic barriers and providing relief for our overrun and overwhelmed border towns by busing migrants to Washington, D.C. and New York City,” the statement said.