TEXAS — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that the first bus of migrants from the Lone Star State to Chicago, Illinois, made it to Union Station. The state now joins Washington, D.C. and New York City as destinations for Texas's migrants as part of Abbott's busing program.
Seventy-five immigrants were boarded on to a bus for the trip to Chicago, the latest chapter of the bitter political battle over the immigration policy of President Joe Biden’s administration.
According to the The Texas Tribune, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the practice of busing migrants “racist,” but will stand by her city’s commitment to welcome in the newcomers.
“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,” Ryan Johnson, the mayor’s deputy director of communications, said in a statement to The Texas Tribune.
Authorities did not specify the immigrants’ countries of origin or say when they arrived in the United States.
Abbott blames the crisis on Biden’s "open border policies," with claims that his “inactions” are overwhelming Texas border cities.
“President Biden’s inaction at our southern border continues putting the lives of Texans—and Americans—at risk and is overwhelming our communities,” said Abbott. “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.”
Since Chicago has adopted a “Welcoming City Ordinance,” making it a sanctuary city, government authorities will not turn away someone based on their immigration status. Also, local city police aren’t required to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker offered his support for the new arrivals.
“Illinois welcomes refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants and we are working with federal and city officials to ensure that these individuals are treated with respect and safety as they look to connect with their family and friends,” Pritzker said on Twitter.
The Democratic governor also drew on his family history in his welcome message.
“My great grandfather came to this country as an immigrant fleeing Ukraine in 1881. Immigrants just like my family seeking freedom and opportunity built this country," he tweeted.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management began placing migrants on buses in April and transporting them to Washington. The program is voluntary. In August, Abbott added New York City as the second drop-off location.
Since then, thousands of migrants have been transported.
Abbott has been waging this battle for months and the mayors of New York and Washington have asked the Biden administration to help with what they describe as a surge of asylum-seeking migrants arriving from border states.
Earlier in the year, Abbott announced that state troopers would stop and inspect commercial vehicles crossing the U.S. Mexico border, a move he acknowledged would “dramatically slow” vehicle traffic near the U.S. ports of entry. He later eased that plan after massive gridlock at the border started to take an economic toll.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.