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Abbott’s Move to Send Migrants to Sanctuary Cities Sparks Controversy

Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s strategy of sending busloads of migrants from his border towns to sanctuary cities like New York seems to have successfully created a split in the Democratic party, with New York saying it was at a breaking point, Chicago saying they were “running out of time and space” before a harsh winter set in and Washington, D.C., saying its housing was at capacity.”

Texas Governor’s Ongoing Practice of Busing Migrants

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For over a year, Abbott has been regularly sending busloads of migrants to cities that deemed themselves sanctuaries to immigrants.

It was a controversial practice, with officials on the receiving end stating that the busing came without warning or coordination and with the intent of creating chaos.

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According to the governor’s office, since April 2022, the Abbott administration has bused some 75,500 migrants from Texas to six cities.

Abbott claimed it all began with sheer desperation while overseeing small border towns bursting at the seams with migrants.

Joe Biden’s Poor Border Policies

Impact on the Electability Argument
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He blamed President Joe Biden’s border policies, which he said were lax. Along the way, a different phenomenon took over—Democrats raising the alarm on immigration, with leaders of sanctuary cities and blue states now warning their situation was dire.

Democrats called on the White House for more funding and to seize control over interior operations to ensure migrants were sent to areas that could take them in.

Winter Crisis Looms

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Asked if the busing would continue through the winter months in cold-weather places like Chicago and New York, Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze said, “Until President Biden does his job and secures the border, Texas will continue busing migrants to sanctuary cities to provide much-needed relief to our overwhelmed border towns.”

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Many Organizations are doing the Same

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Abbott claimed he wasn’t alone; other organizations receiving federal funding, including Catholic Charities, also sent migrants in buses and planes to places like Chicago and New York City. Eze, the spokesperson, said Texas couldn’t be blamed for the bulk of the migrants sent to sanctuary cities, stating the numbers only made up a fraction of the migrants arriving in those cities.

Warning from New York City Mayor Eric Adams

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Already, New York City Mayor Eric Adams has warned that the migrant crisis could “destroy New York City.” Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration warred with fellow Democrats over where to house migrants over the winter.

On phone calls and even on Air Force One with the president, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Biden ally, implored him to take action on border issues.

Abbott’s Standpoint

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From Abbott’s standpoint, it was a shift that was long overdue. “Before we began busing illegal immigrants up to New York, it was just Texas and Arizona that bore the brunt of all of the chaos and all of the problems that come with it,” Abbott said in an interview a year ago. “Now the rest of America is understanding exactly what’s going on.”

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Support For Abbott

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In some parts of Texas, there’s firm support for Abbott. “He’s doing the whole country a good service,” said Dallas-based George Seay, the co-founder of Annandale Capital and an Abbott friend and supporter. “This is not a political thing,” Seay continued, saying Abbott’s actions were akin to dumping a bucket of ice water on the tops of officials in northern states.

Brendan Steinhauser’s Take

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Brendan Steinhauser, a Texas-based Republican strategist, was among the first to execute a gubernatorial order to deploy groups of migrants on buses. Steinhauser noted that if a city as large as Chicago was feeling the impact of immigrants sent by the hundreds, imagine the impact on tiny border towns that are regularly seeing migrants by the thousands.

Steinhauser Highlights the Struggle of the Northern States with Migrant Influxes

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“What you’re seeing with these numbers is that some of the blowback is from communities that feel like they’re now competing for resources, competing for services with those folks,” Steinhauser said of northern states’ struggles with migrant influxes. “It’s now hitting the Democratic party in a Democratic-run city and creating a wedge within the Democratic party.”

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Winters in Chicago

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As winter bore down in Chicago, Democrats in the city were at odds with their counterparts at the state level over the latest site for a migrant camp badly needed before the worst of the season hit.

The City Starts to Make Accommodation Preparations

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The city began preparing for a site to accommodate the thousands of migrants arriving mostly from Texas, only for the state to raise environmental concerns. “The City might be comfortable placing asylum seekers on a site where toxins are present without a full understanding of whether it is safe, the State is not,” a governor’s office spokesperson said in a statement this week. “This site will not move forward as a shelter with State involvement.”

Illinois Governor Urges Biden to Intervene

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The scramble that ensued afterward prompted several aldermen to call for the resignations of a slate of city officials. The governor’s office called on the Biden administration to do more to curtail Abbott’s ability to control where the migrants are sent, suggesting it could activate the Office of Refugee Resettlement to transport the migrants.

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Concerning Signs For the Party

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Not only were Democrats warring with each other, but there were signs that the party was losing the public’s faith in whether it could handle the issue better than Republicans.

A September  showed that 50% of registered voters surveyed said that the Republican Party was better at dealing with border security, compared to 20% of voters who chose Democrats.

Democrats Point the Finger Directly at Abbott

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But even as intraparty clashes ensued, Democrats pointed the finger down South, directly at Abbott. Asked about Seay’s comment that Abbott’s busing operation was a “stroke of genius,” Pritzker’s chief of staff scoffed.

Anne Caprara’s Harsh Remarks

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“I don’t think it’s a stroke of genius, I think it’s a stroke of cruelty,” Anne Caprara, Pritzker’s chief of staff, said in an interview. “It actually in a lot of cases seems that they direct buses to drop off points to the places where there’s going to be the maximum amount of chaos.”

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The White House criticizes Abbott’s Practices

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The White House rebuked Abbott’s practices, citing one of Abbott’s bus deployments that dropped off families outside of Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence on Christmas Eve last year.

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