Texas governor sends migrants to New York as immigration standoff gathers pace

Texas Governor Greg Abbott holds a press conference with state agencies and local officials at Uvalde High School, three days after a gunman killed nineteen children and two adults during a a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, in Uvalde, Texas, U.S., May 27, 2022. REUTERS/Marco Bello

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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. Volunteers were putting groups of migrants into taxis heading to a nearby reception center, where they said some would be processed for admission to homeless shelters in the city.

Abbott, who is seeking a third term as governor in the November election, has 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

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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.

New York City Mayor 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.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser also said her city’s shelter system had been taxed by migrant arrivals and last month called on the Biden administration to deploy military troops to help welcome 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.

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Reporting by Sofia Ahmed in New York and Ted Hesson in Washington; Additional reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Mica Rosenberg and Daniel Wallis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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