Migrants sent by bus to northern US cities: A ‘publicity stunt’ crippling aid organisations

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis caused an uproar in the US in early September after sending two planes full of migrants and asylum seekers on planes to the upscale town of Martha’s Vineyard, promising jobs and housing for them on arrival. The move followed several months of efforts by other Republican governors to send thousands of migrants from border zones to Democratic cities. According to our Observers, the initiatives create a political spectacle using “human life as a political point”.

On Monday, September 19, nine buses full of migrants and asylum seekers arrived in New York City, a record number of new arrivals in one day. And they all came from border zones in Texas.

The first bus of migrants had arrived in Washington, DC in April 2022 as part of Texas Governor Greg Abbott's plan to share the “burden” of migrant border crossings with the rest of the country – in particular, Democratic cities. The plan came after the Biden administration cancelled Title 42, a health order during the pandemic that allowed border agents to deny entry even to those seeking asylum.

Since then, countless other buses have made the more than 2,700 km journey from Texas to Washington, DC, or even further to New York City and Chicago. Over 11,000 migrants have been sent from Texas as of September 16. Arizona officials have started similar initiatives, bussing nearly 2,000 people to the capital.

Still, Mackler said that properly welcoming immigrants is possible, with the right support and coordination.