Los Angeles on Saturday received its 20th busload of migrants courtesy of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who takes responsibility for shipping more than 45,000 migrants to a half-dozen “sanctuary” cities across the country.
The bus arrived around 1:45 p.m. at Union Station with 27 passengers, including a family of six, according to nonprofit groups providing assistance. The city said this was the 20th such bus to arrive in L.A., including one that arrived Monday and three on Friday, which carried 16 children among its passengers.
The latest arrivals, amid escalating political rhetoric about immigration, further incensed community groups Los Angeles has organized to help those on the buses.
“It is disgraceful that they might ramp up the rhetoric against migrants … to demonize them to gain political points,” said Guillermo Torres, who spearheads immigration issues for the Los Angeles-based Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice.
He warned that the short-term electoral benefit has long-term consequences: “When you demonize communities, you run into the dangers of inciting, in people’s hearts, hate and anger toward those communities.”
Abbott, who has made a political show of such buses since 2022, issued a statement Friday claiming to have sent more than 45,570 people to Democratic-led cities: Washington, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles. By the count of the Texas governor’s office, Los Angeles so far has received some 770 migrants. New York has received more than 16,400 migrants.
Many more charters are likely. Purchase orders show the Texas bus company that holds the primary migrant charter contract, Wynne Transportation, was given an $84-million order in August from the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
The Los Angeles City Council in August asked for an opinion on whether the city can sue Texas and whether the busing program violates any laws.
Sacramento has also received migrants, including by chartered plane. California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had arranged for at least one charter flight, though it appeared a Texas shelter transported some migrants who had court dates in Sacramento.
Abbott last week sought friendly platforms to cast immigration in terms of presidential politics, castigating President Biden while praising former President Trump in a speech to the conservative Manhattan Institute in New York and while making the rounds at Fox News. Abbott contended the United States is experiencing an “unprecedented border crisis,” a narrative that also played heavily in last week’s Republican presidential debate.
“Texas is the only state in history that has actually repelled illegal immigrants,” Abbott told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo, declaring that Texas was “at war” with the United States. He said more than 2.3 million people were apprehended crossing the Texas border illegally in 2022, a number expected to be slightly higher in 2023. He alleged the surge in immigration is “all carefully, choreographically designed policy” by Biden.
Friday’s buses reportedly held as many as 109 migrants, though only 65 were processed by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, said spokesman Jorge-Mario Cabrera. Some migrants got off the bus in Arizona, Cabrera said, while others left after arriving at Union Station, but before humanitarian aid was on scene.
“Folks were exhausted, disheveled,” Cabrera said. “They were uncleaned, tired, hungry and anxious.”
The Texas buses began arriving in Los Angeles in June. Abbott’s office at that time claimed it had put more than 21,000 migrants on such buses to “self-declared sanctuary cities while providing much-needed relief to Texas’ overwhelmed border communities.”
Abbott last week contended that all of those boarding the buses did so voluntarily.
“It’s difficult to describe as ‘voluntary’ rides for people who don’t even know California is thousands of miles away from Chicago or New York and yet their need to move forward, to survive, is so great that anything they are offered that keeps them from squashing their dreams will be agreed to,” Cabrera said Sunday.
The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights said the migrants it helped this past week were from Colombia, El Salvador, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela. Cabrera said half told workers they planned to move on.
Four of the buses in the last week were dispatched from Del Rio, Texas, while one came from Brownsville, Texas.