By Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner
The first charter bus, which can carry up to 40 migrants, pulled into the nation’s capital around 9 a.m. local time Wednesday, dropping off passengers between the U.S. Capitol and Union Station.
A senior state official involved in the operation told the Washington Examiner that the bus picked up migrants who had been discharged from federal custody somewhere in the Del Rio sector, a 245-mile-long stretch of the border. A second bus is en route to Washington from the Del Rio area, the official said.
“As the federal government continues to turn a blind eye to the border crisis, the State of Texas will remain steadfast in our efforts to fill in the gaps and keep Texans safe,” Abbott said in a statement issued shortly after the drop-off. “By busing migrants to Washington, D.C., the Biden Administration will be able to more immediately meet the needs of the people they are allowing to cross our border. Texas should not have to bear the burden of the Biden Administration’s failure to secure our border.”
Migrants from Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua were on the first bus. The United States is limited in its ability to repatriate migrants to those countries, forcing the government to detain or release them at the border. Migrants are then placed in removal proceedings that likely will not be resolved in court for several years.
Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, senior policy counsel at the American Immigration Council, blasted the Texas Republican leader for sending migrants north, but he said the community will rally around the group.
“There is something deeply wrong with Greg Abbott. Like Lukashenko, Putin’s dictatorial ally in Belarus, he’s trying to weaponize migrants, ignoring their humanity and using them as pawns for his political ambitions. But he underestimates the people of DC. We are happy to help,” Reichlin-Melnick wrote in a post on Twitter Wednesday morning.
State officials in Texas say busing migrants to Washington is more like a disaster evacuation than a kidnapping, following criticism from Democrats and some Republicans after Abbott’s announcement of the plan on April 6.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management is working directly with towns and cities along the border with Mexico that request transportation for migrants who have been released from custody by the Border Patrol. Similar to how local officials can request state assistance during a hurricane or flood, an assistance request must be submitted.
Read more at the Washington Examiner.