NEW YORK, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, said on Friday he had started sending buses carrying migrants to New York in a bid to blame border crossings on Democratic mayors and US President Joe Biden, a Democrat.
The first bus arrived early Friday at the city’s Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan, carrying about 50 migrants from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras and Venezuela. Volunteers helped direct people who did not have relatives in town to city resources.
“Most of them don’t have anyone to help them. They don’t know where to go, so we take them to shelters,” said bus station volunteer Evelin Zapata, from a group called Grannies Respond. .
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A family of four from Colombia, who ended up in a homeless shelter in the Bronx, didn’t know where to spend the night. Byron and Leidy, both 28, said they left the country’s capital, Bogota, as they struggled to find work. They did not provide their last name.
“It’s a little easier to enter the country now, before it was very difficult to come here with children,” said Leidy, who traveled with his children Mariana, 7, and Nicolas, 13. . She said the family had hoped someone they knew in New York would take them in, but that plan didn’t work out. “We came here because they said they would help us find a place to sleep so we didn’t have to be on the streets,” Leidy said.
Abbott, who is seeking a third term as governor in the November election, has already sent more than 6,000 migrants to Washington since April in a broader effort to tackle illegal immigration and call out Biden for his more welcoming policies. Read more
Biden took office in January 2021 pledging to reverse many of the sweeping immigration policies of his Republican predecessor, former President Donald Trump, but some efforts have been stalled in court.
Abbott said New York City Mayor Eric Adams could provide services and housing for newcomers.
“I hope he keeps his promise to welcome all migrants with open arms so that our overrun and overwhelmed border towns can find relief,” Abbott said in a statement.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, another Republican, followed Abbott’s lead and flew another 1,000 people to Washington.
US border officials have made a record number of arrests under Biden, though many are repeat smugglers. Some migrants who cannot be expeditiously deported to Mexico or their country of origin under COVID-era policy are allowed to enter the United States, often to file asylum claims in court American immigration.
Adams’ office has criticized busing efforts to Washington in recent weeks, saying some migrants are heading to New York and overwhelming its homeless shelter system.
On Friday, the mayor’s press secretary, Fabien Levy, said Abbott was using “human beings as political pawns,” calling him a “disgusting and embarrassing stain on the state of Texas.”
Levy said New York would continue to “welcome asylum seekers with open arms, as we always have, but we are asking for resources to do so,” appealing for support from federal authorities.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Friday called the Texas initiative “shameful” and an unnecessary burden on taxpayers in that state.
Costs for the effort totaled $1.6 million in April and May, a local NBC News affiliate reported in June, or more than $1,400 per cyclist.
Texas officials declined to provide the cost when requested by Reuters.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser also said her city’s shelter system was being strained by migrant arrivals and last month called on the Biden administration to deploy military troops to help accommodate the migrants. migrants, a request that has frustrated White House officials. Read more
A US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had refused a request from the DC National Guard to help transport and receive migrants in the city, as this would affect the readiness of the troops.
Bowser suggested on Friday that she would submit a more targeted troop request, reiterating her position that the federal government should manage what she called a “growing humanitarian crisis.”
“If the federal government doesn’t, they should at least get out of our way and give us the resources we need,” she told reporters.
Many migrants arrive after long and difficult journeys through South America.
Venezuelan migrant Jose Gregorio Forero said that before traveling more than a day by bus from Texas, he had traveled through eight countries. “It took 31 days to get here, walking and asking for rides,” he said, saying he was happy to be in New York where he thought there would be more job opportunities. .
New York City, he said, “is very beautiful. I love it.”
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Reporting by Sofia Ahmed in New York and Ted Hesson in Washington; Additional reporting by Idrees Ali and Jeff Mason in Washington, Roselle Chen and Dan Fastenberg in New York; Editing by Mica Rosenberg and Daniel Wallis
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