Texas Governor Dumps First Busload Of Migrants In DC For Political Stunt

The group arrived at a building near Capitol Hill that is home to Fox News, NBC News and C-SPAN.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) congratulated himself Wednesday for dumping a busload of immigrants in the heart of Washington, D.C., as part of a political tantrum over President Joe Biden’s immigration policies.

The stunt allows the Biden administration “to more immediately meet the needs of the people they are allowing to cross our border,” Abbott claimed in a press release.

The migrants arrived at a building near Capitol Hill that is home to the Washington bureaus of Fox News, NBC News and C-SPAN. They were greeted by staff from Catholic Charities DC, a group that offers food assistance, medical care, job training and English lessons, a spokesperson told HuffPost.

Five of the immigrants told CNN they were from Venezuela and had arrived at the southern U.S. border on Sunday, where they were processed by authorities and released while their immigration claims worked their way through the court system. Their bus ride took roughly 30 hours, they said, with food and water provided along the route.

Abbott’s office noted that other migrants on the first bus had also come from Colombia, Cuba and Nicaragua. A second bus is en route.

Abbott’s office said the travel arrangements to Washington were a voluntary process in which individuals needed to show Homeland Security documentation to board a bus or plane. The Texas Division of Emergency Management was directed to coordinate their travel plans.

For some of the immigrants, the bus ride helped speed their journey to where they ultimately wanted to go. One migrant, a 26-year-old mother of two from Venezuela, told The Texas Tribune that she and her small family had wanted to escape Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s regime and were headed to New York.

“We are very thankful for all the help that has been given to us,” she told the Tribune in Spanish.

But Abbott’s plan has earned scorching criticism for exploiting vulnerable individuals to make a political point.

An ACLU of Texas staff attorney called Abbott’s plan “outrageous and blatantly unconstitutional” when it was first announced, while it was still unclear that the busing would be voluntary. White House press secretary Jen Psaki labeled Abbott’s plan a “publicity stunt.” Texas state Rep. Matt Shaefer, a Republican, called it a “gimmick.”

Texas Democrats said Abbott was merely working “to demonize immigrants.”

“For years, Texas Republicans have looked to the Southern Border as a wedge issue, creating a narrative that stirs up emotions but neglects the truth,” the Texas Democratic Party said in a Monday statement.

Abbott has spoken out harshly against Biden’s stance on immigration, mischaracterizing the president’s immigration policy as one of “open borders” when not much has changed from the Trump era despite Biden’s campaign-trail promises.

“As the federal government continues to turn a blind eye to the border crisis, the State of Texas will remain steadfast in our efforts to fill in the gaps and keep Texans safe,” Abbott said in his statement on Wednesday. “By busing migrants to Washington, D.C., the Biden Administration will be able to more immediately meet the needs of the people they are allowing to cross our border. Texas should not have to bear the burden of the Biden Administration’s failure to secure our border.”

Biden recently announced he would rescind a policy enacted under Trump known as “Title 42” that allowed authorities to turn away asylum-seekers on the basis of public health, given the prevalence of COVID-19.

Until the pandemic hit, the number of people arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border had been steadily increasing over the last decade, and the question of how to handle vast numbers of migrants has now reportedly divided White House advisers.

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