LOS ANGELES (KABC) — A group of migrants was bused from Texas to Los Angeles Wednesday and dropped off at downtown’s Union Station, according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who cited L.A.’s “self-declared sanctuary city status.”
ABC7 was told the group consists of about 42 people, including young children, who are mainly from Venezuela, Honduras and Guatemala.
Some of the children are as young as 2 years old, sources said.
“Texas’ small border towns remain overwhelmed and overrun by the thousands of people illegally crossing into Texas from Mexico because of President Biden’s refusal to secure the border,” read a statement released by Abbott. “Los Angeles is a major city that migrants seek to go to, particularly now that its city leaders approved its self-declared sanctuary city status. Our border communities are on the frontlines of President Biden’s border crisis, and Texas will continue providing this much-needed relief until he steps up to do his job and secure the border.”
The group was moved to St. Anthony’s Croatian Catholic Church in Chinatown Wednesday evening where groups like the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, also known as CHIRLA, were sent to provide support.
The organization said it received a tip about the group’s arrival Tuesday night but has been prepared for months.
“We cannot control what Governor Abbott does in Texas, how he decides to treat human beings, but here in the city of Los Angeles, with our county of Los Angeles partners and the entirety of the immigrant rights infrastructure, we have a different choice to make,” said CHIRLA’s Executive Director Angelica Salas. “Our choice is to receive individuals with humanity, with dignity, and to provide them with the information that they need in order to begin their new life in this country.”
Other organizations assisting the group include the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The migrants were given food and have been speaking with immigration attorneys, according to Jorge-Mario Cabrera with CHIRLA. He said it’s unclear if the group knew where they were going and believes they were on bus for 23 hours without food or drinks.
Officials said at least one migrant has a legal case in another state.
“We have families who’ve come through this situation who have other family members they were separated from at the border,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center. “We are in the process of trying to unify those families. These are very complicated cases, and people’s lives are at stake.”
The Los Angeles Police Department along with the city’s fire department told Eyewitness News they’ve been instructed to contact Mayor Karen Bass’ office.
The mayor, who’s currently in Washington D.C., released the following statement Wednesday evening:
“It is abhorrent that an American elected official is using human beings as pawns in his cheap political games.
This evening, more than 40 people were sent by the Governor of Texas to our City of Los Angeles.
Shortly after I took office, I directed City Departments to begin planning in the event Los Angeles was on the receiving end of a despicable stunt that Republican Governors have grown so fond of.
This did not catch us off guard, nor will it intimidate us. Now, it’s time to execute our plan. Our emergency management, police, fire and other departments were able to find out about the incoming arrival while the bus was on its way and were already mobilized along with nonprofit partners before the bus arrived.
Los Angeles is not a city motivated by hate or fear and we absolutely will not be swayed or moved by petty politicians playing with human lives. We are a city that seeks to treat all people with dignity and compassion and we will continue to work closely with non-profit organizations, including the L.A. Welcomes Collective, as well as with our County, State and Federal partners.
For everything that we do, we will continue to lock arms and we will continue to lead. And we will always put people’s health and well being over politics.”
In April 2022, Abbott directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to send migrants from Texas to Washington, D.C.
The governor added New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia as additional drop-off locations last year and most recently added Denver as a busing destination last month.
The moves serve as a way to protest what he calls “Biden’s open-border policies.”
Several California leaders have spoken out about Abbott’s move, including Rep. Jimmy Gomez, whose district covers the downtown area.
“Republicans continue to use migrants as props in their sick political game, while they offer zero solutions to ease these peoples’ suffering or fix our broken immigration system.”
Since beginning Abbott’s migrant busing strategy last spring, his office said more than 21,600 migrants have been transported to those cities.