(The Center Square) – Since April 2022, more than 100,000 foreign nationals who have illegally crossed the border have been bused or flown from Texas to six sanctuary cities. This equates to roughly 5% of those who illegally entered Texas in fiscal 2023 alone, the highest number on record, The Center Square exclusively reported.
Gov. Greg Abbott began busing foreign nationals who illegally entered the U.S. and were unlawfully released by the Biden administration into Texas, he argues, to provide relief to border communities, including 58 that declared disasters citing the border crisis.
The first self-described sanctuary city to receive foreign nationals from Texas was Washington, D.C. Not soon after, its mayor declared a state of emergency and asked the federal government to deploy the National Guard for help, which it denied. Texas has sent more than 12,500 people to the nation’s capital since April 2022.
Abbott then expanded the operation to New York City in August 2022. Since then, Texas has bused more than 37,100 people there, with thousands more transported by the Democratic city of El Paso. El Paso officials say New York City and Chicago are the destinations of choice of illegal border crossers arriving there.
In response, New York City Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency, blamed Abbott for the border crisis and said the city didn’t have the funds to deal with the influx of people. The city most recently sued 19 private busing companies contracted by Texas, a lawsuit the governor says is baseless. Instead, Adams should sue President Joe Biden, Abbott argues.
In August 2022, Texas began busing foreign nationals to Chicago. Not soon after, the mayor also declared a state of emergency and attempted to stop the buses from dropping off foreign nationals in the city. Texas then began flying foreign nationals to northern Illinois in response.
Democratic leaders in Illinois blamed Abbott for the crisis and asked the federal government for funds to deal with the influx of people. More than 30,800 people have been bused to Chicago by Texas, thousands more have been bused by Democratic officials from El Paso. The numbers arriving in Chicago represent a fraction of the nearly 500,000 who illegally entered Texas in fiscal 2023 and evaded capture by law enforcement, known as gotaways.
By November 2022, Texas added Philadelphia as a destination city. Since then, more than 3,400 people chose to be bused there. In response, the city began encouraging Philadelphians to donate to its “Philadelphia Welcoming Fund” to support “local efforts to welcome immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.” People arriving were from Angola, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador, Georgia, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Syria, and Uzbekistan, and Venezuela, officials said.
Texas taxpayers have funded the transportation of foreign nationals to these sanctuary cities.
In 2023, Abbott expanded his busing strategy to two more sanctuary cities. More than 15,700 have been bused to Denver since May 18; more than 1,500 to Los Angeles since June 14.
The cities’ Democratic mayors lashed out at Abbott, also blaming him for the border crisis. The number of people being transported by Texas to California equates to less than 1% of those who illegally entered California in fiscal 2023 – more than 500,000, The Center Square exclusively reported.
The buses and flights from Texas are voluntary, Abbott notes. Adults sign consent waivers for themselves and the minors under their care, which are available in multiple languages, prior to boarding. The waivers state they agreed on the destination, Abbott’s press secretary, Andrew Mahaleris, has explained to The Center Square. They are also provided with food, water and medical care.
While Democratic mayors and governors have blasted Abbott for the scheme, more than 10 million foreign nationals were reported to have illegally entered the U.S. between Jan. 1, 2021. and Sept. 30, 2023, including 1.7 million who evaded capture, The Center Square exclusively reported. This is greater than the individual populations of 41 states.
Texas has borne the brunt of illegal entry and the crime that comes with it because it shares the longest border with Mexico of any other state. To mitigate the impact, the Texas Legislature allocated more than $11.5 billion to fund Abbott’s border security mission, Operation Lone Star. Since it launched, OLS officials have arrested more than 495,400 foreign nationals and made more than 38,300 criminal arrests, with more than 34,700 felony charges reported.
While no other states have a comparable budget or size of the OLS force, law enforcement officials nationwide have issued warnings about increased break-ins and violent crimes being committed by foreign nationals, citing the border crisis. Public health officials in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City, and others, also issued warnings about an alarming increase in the spread of communicable diseases, citing the border crisis.