Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) announced on Wednesday that Texas has transported a group of illegal immigrants to Los Angeles for the first time, a move described as a “despicable stunt” by L.A. Mayor Karen Bass.
“Texas just dropped off the 1st bus of migrants in Los Angeles,” Abbott wrote on Twitter.
Around 40 illegal immigrants, including families with children, arrived in Los Angeles via bus on Wednesday afternoon around 4 p.m. They were provided care and support services at St. Anthony’s Croatian Catholic Church near downtown, according to officials and service providers.
In a statement, Abbott repeated his justification for the relocation, saying that Texas border towns are overwhelmed as thousands of individuals cross the U.S.-Mexico border under President Joe Biden’s immigration policies.
“Los Angeles is a major city that migrants seek to go to, particularly now that its city leaders approved its self-declared sanctuary city status,” Abbott said in a statement.
One of the arrivals, a man from Honduras, has an immigration parole court date in New York, according to migrant advocate Jorge-Mario Cabrera, director of communications for CHIRLA, who expressed doubt about the appropriateness of bussing the man to California in comments to the Los Angeles Times.
Under Abbott’s direction, the Texas Division of Emergency Management has transported over 21,600 illegal immigrants from border towns to Democrat-led sanctuary cities, including Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and most recently, Denver, since April 2022. The leaders of these cities, which have been unprepared for the arrivals, have criticized the strategy as racist and a political stunt.
LA Mayor Says City Prepared
Video footage shared by Fox News shows the group of illegal immigrants, including families with young children, arriving in Los Angeles with luggage and soft toys. They made a stop at Union Station before being taken to a welcoming center where they were provided by city agencies and nonprofits with food and other services, such as attorneys.
“They left yesterday and it was 23 hours on the bus,” said Cabrera, who claimed they didn’t have a chance to eat or drink water.
“They are being fed; they’re taking shelters; they’re talking to attorneys,” he added. “These are migrants that have been allowed by the U.S. to enter because they have credible fears. They have not yet received asylum.”
The Epoch Times has contacted Cabrera for further comment.
Upon their arrival, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass issued a statement emphasizing the human aspect of what is a divisive political issue.
“This evening, more than 40 people were sent by the Governor of Texas to our City of Los Angeles. Shortly after I took office, I directed City Departments to begin planning for an event like this. This did not catch us off guard. We are now executing our plan,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Los Angeles is not a city motivated by hate or fear and we absolutely will not be swayed or moved by petty politicians playing with human lives,” she continued. “For everything that we do, we will continue to lock arms and we will continue to lead—and we will always put people’s health and wellbeing over politics.”
This comes a week after a separate group was flown from Texas to Sacramento by Florida, which drew criticism from Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.), who said it was inhumane. California Attorney General Rob Bonta characterized the actions as “state-sanctioned kidnapping” and accused Florida of exploiting vulnerable individuals.
Conservatives Highlight Sanctuary Cities
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) has argued that sanctuary jurisdictions like California share the blame for the illegal immigration crisis.
“These sanctuary jurisdictions are part of the reason we have this problem because they have endorsed and agitated for these types of open border policies. They have bragged that they are sanctuary jurisdictions,” DeSantis said.
He also criticized the lack of federal action in safeguarding U.S. sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Since Biden assumed office, illegal immigration at the U.S.–Mexico border has surged. Florida has also witnessed arrivals by boat at its maritime border from countries like Haiti.
However, some sanctuary cities, including New York and Chicago, have struggled to manage the influx of illegal immigrants sent by border states via buses and planes.
Critics of the bussing strategy argued that illegal immigrants are being “dumped” in the sanctuary jurisdictions and are not being treated with dignity after they are released by border agents on parole.
The Biden administration has shifted its focus from the Title 42 order, which expired in May, to a parole program and an online mobile application portal called CBP One.
Under the parole program, which has been challenged in federal court by Florida, migrants can apply for temporary entry online instead of at the border. If they illegally cross the border, they will be returned and disqualified from the parole program. Critics highlight that the parole program is identical to a “catch and release” program, which was blocked by a federal court.
The administration has also proposed a rule stating that asylum applicants must seek protection in countries they travel through before reaching the United States.