The Wheels on the Bus: Migrant Busing Continues Turning

The season is changing as we move from summer into fall. But one thing that remains the same is the migrant crisis impacting cities. As a follow-up to my previous post in August 2022, (This Land is My Land, This Land is Your Land), the busing and influx of what some refer to as migrants, immigrants, asylum seekers, or refugees, specifically from Texas, continues to increase in two major cities, Washington, DC and New York City. And as the surge continues, these cities are still struggling to accommodate them. At least 9,400 migrants were bused to Washington, DC since April 2022 by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Adding to these numbers, Arizona’s governor Doug Ducey has sent at least 1,500 people to the nation’s capital since mid-August. As a side note, the number of migrant stops while entering the US from Mexico is on pace to reach a record 2 million-plus by the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept 30.

Through the struggle, the mayors of both cities are strategically working to develop plans to help those arriving in their cities.

Washington, DC Plan

At least 250 buses have so far arrived in Washington, DC. On September 8, Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington DC, declared a 15-day public emergency over the amount of migrant and refugee buses being sent to the city. Mayor Bowser announced plans to create an office of migrant services to coordinate what she calls a “humanitarian crisis.” 

According to the mayor’s office, the office will be funded through a $10 million investment from the DC government, and the city will seek reimbursement from the federal government. With this plan, under the emergency declaration, the city will create the Office of Migrant Services to meet the needs of those who arrive in the district and facilitate onward travel.

The new office would provide basic needs to arriving migrants and refugees, including food, transportation, urgent medical care, and transportation to connect people to resettlement services. The office will also support non-profits already helping the new arrivals. While most new arrivals leave Washington for another state, non-profit staff who greet them at the bus station estimated that up to 15% stay because they have nowhere else to go. The time-limited emergency declaration, which the city council can extend, gives Bowser more power and flexibility, allowing officials to mobilize people and resources faster and seek federal financial assistance.

New York City Plan

In New York City, Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro revealed the eye-popping total during a news conference at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, where five buses arrived on September 8th carrying migrants relocated by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott — matching Wednesday’s record number of buses. Thursday’s buses carried 223 migrants, according to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. 

Workers on one bus were seen scanning barcodes on bracelets worn by the migrants and then cutting them off their wrists as they disembarked, leading city officials to question the purpose. Bar codes? Really? An Abbott spokesperson called the bracelets “standard protocol for voluntary transport by the Texas Division of Emergency Management” and said they’ve “been used during times of natural disasters like hurricanes when needing to transport people to safety.” Sounds to me like cattle being transported!

New York City’s mayor and governor are showing true leadership by actively coordinating with the White House and federal government and governors across the country and mayors across the country to see how they can work together to address the need to resettle asylum-seekers. This is what should be taking place – coordinated efforts!

The ongoing surge of migrants to the Big Apple has forced the city to strike emergency deals with 14 hotels because the shelter system is overloaded. City Hall hasn’t said how much is being spent housing migrants in hotels, but a New York Post analysis this week found the annual cost could top $300 million, based on the average $148 daily room rate it paid under terms of a $139 million contract last year. The city said it was seeking to rent 5,000 rooms

The City’s mayor, Eric Adams, sent a delegation to the southern border to better understand the needs of migrant citizens. “Members of the team were sent down on a fact-finding mission to hear directly from people on the ground and get the real answers that are not being provided from Texas, including whether they are sending asylum seekers to New York City even if they prefer to go elsewhere,” press secretary Fabian Levy said in a statement.

“Here in New York, we will continue to welcome asylum-seekers with open arms, as we learn more about the process, meet with real partners, and see, firsthand, the reportedly inhumane conditions in which asylum-seekers are being subjected to by the state of Texas,” he said.

Next Stop

So, what’s the next stop in the Migration Saga? Well, here you go. Chicago is the latest city where migrants have been bused to from Texas, following Washington, D.C. and New York City. 

MSN reported “To continue providing much-needed relief to our small, overrun border towns, Chicago will join fellow sanctuary cities Washington, D.C. and New York City as an additional drop-off location,” Abbott said last month. Is it me? Or, does there still appear to be no coordination between city and state?

August 31st, in a Press Release, Governor Abbott announced the arrival of the first group of migrants bussed to Chicago, Illinois from Texas. The migrants were dropped off at Union Station. In addition to Washington, D.C. and New York City, Chicago will now be a drop-off location for the bussing strategy as part of the Governor’s response to President Biden’s open border policies overwhelming border communities in Texas. As of Wednesday night, September 7th, two buses carrying migrants from Texas arrived in Chicago.

The wheels on the bus and the busing continue turning. As more buses continue to arrive in D.C., New York City, and now Chicago, Abbott continues not to coordinate or inform city or state officials of the incoming of migrants. Despite his actions, these cities are doing everything they can to ensure these immigrants and their families can receive shelter, food, and most importantly protection. 

Food for Thought

These cities have and will continue to be places of refuge for those who are escaping conflict or seeking a better life. After all, if everyone works through the system, and are able to find work to support themselves, isn’t that the great American way?

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