TEXAS (April 15, 2022)— federal officials weighed in on Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s plan to send illegal immigrants to President Joe Biden’s administration in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner said Gov. Greg Abbott isn’t coordinating with the agency as Texas sends migrants far from their immigration proceedings.
Abbott unveiled his plan to bus and fly migrants to the nation’s capital at a press conference last week in response to President Joe Biden’s reversal of Title 42, a Trump-era emergency health order that allowed immigration authorities to refuse entry to migrants due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Abbott said sending migrants to Washington would allow the Biden administration “to more immediately address the needs of the people that they are allowing to come across our border.”
About 30 people from Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua traveled to the U.S. capital as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s new plan in response to the end of Title 42.
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Sitting in the plaza in front of Union Station in Washington, D.C., with the U.S. Capitol behind her, Ordalis Heras, a 26-year-old Venezuelan asylum-seeker, tried to control her two young children while she waited to get transportation to New York.
Two months ago, Heras said she fled Venezuela with her husband and children to escape President Nicolás Maduro’s regime. She crossed the border on Sunday through Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, and surrendered to U.S. immigration authorities in Del Rio.
On Tuesday, she took an offer from the state of Texas to be taken about 1,700 miles to Washington, D.C., for free. Now, a day later, she was about 200 miles away from her final destination.
“We are very thankful for all the help that has been given to us,” Heras said in Spanish outside Union Station. “Frankly, we did not have the money to get here otherwise, so we are very thankful for the help.”
Heras was one of about 30 people on the first bus transporting migrants from the Texas border to Washington, D.C., under a new plan unveiled by Gov. Greg Abbott last week. The governor said the order is in response to the Biden administration’s decision to end Title 42, a pandemic-era emergency health order that allowed immigration authorities at the border to deny entry to migrants, even those seeking asylum.
When the health order goes away at the end of May, federal authorities expect as many as 18,000 migrants a day at the southern border. Abbott said last week that Texas would bus migrants to the nation’s capital where the Biden administration could better deal with them.
The program is voluntary for migrants and must be requested by cities and counties, but the state pays for the buses.
“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,” Abbott said in a Wednesday morning statement. “Texas should not have to bear the burden of the Biden Administration’s failure to secure our border.”
Abbott’s office has said transportation to the nation’s capital would happen only after migrants detained at the border had been processed and released by the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to buses, Abbott also said the state could charter flights to transport migrants to the nation’s capital. The migrants would have to show documentation that they had already been processed by DHS.
People from Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua made the journey from Texas’ border to Capitol Hill on that first bus, the governor’s office said, adding that another bus is already en route. Abbott’s office has released few details of the cost and extent of the bus operations and did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.
The bus appeared to be operated by a North Carolina-based company called Elder Charters, according to a Fox News video of the bus’ arrival to Washington. The company declined to comment Wednesday and directed questions to Texas state officials.