Chicago bus: First bus carrying migrants from Texas-Mexico border arrives in Illinois, officials say


The State of Texas, which for several months has thousands of buses of newly arrived migrants at the US-Mexico border to New York and Washington, DC, has defined a new metropolitan area as destination: Chicago.

Undocumented migrants on a charter bus from Texas arrived in Chicago on Wednesday evening, according to the office of Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

“To continue to provide much-needed aid to our small, overrun border towns, Chicago will join the other sanctuary cities of Washington, DC and New York as an additional drop-off location,” Abbott said in a statement.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot “likes to tout her city’s responsibility to welcome all, regardless of their legal status,” Abbott said, “and I look forward to seeing that responsibility in action as these migrants receive resources of a sanctuary city with the ability to serve them.”

When the Texas bus program began in April, Lightfoot tweeted“I am appalled by the behavior of Texas Governor Abbott.”

In a statement late Wednesday, the spokesperson for Lightfoot said, “Chicago is and will continue to be a welcoming city. We work with various city departments and with local, state and community partners to ensure that everyone who arrives in Chicago is welcomed and treated with dignity and respect.

City officials say temporary accommodations for those arriving from Texas will be found and support provided.

Abbott’s decision to send migrants elsewhere is the latest salvo in a increasingly strained relationship to the Biden administration on how to handle the thousands of people arriving at the country’s border seeking asylum or entry.

More than 8,000 asylum seekers – all of whom were consenting passengers, Texas officials say – have makes trips in New York and Washington, D.C., as the state pursues “Operation Lone Star,” an initiative officials say is designed to better secure the border that has come below meticulous examination since its creation.

“The bus mission is providing much-needed relief to our overstretched border communities,” the governor’s office said Friday. “Operation Lone Star continues to fill dangerous voids left by the Biden administration’s refusal to secure the border.”

New York City received a record number of migrants this week and more buses are expected, a spokesperson for the mayor’s immigration office told CNN on Saturday. Mayor Eric Adams and other city officials have accused Abbott’s administration of force people to get on buses and lamented the lack of coordination.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN last week that Abbott’s efforts were destabilizing the federal immigrant processing system and criticized the governor for no coordination with federal authorities.

Plans are underway to bus migrants to other cities in Texas, Abbott said, but he did not elaborate on Chicago in his comments earlier Wednesday.

Figures released to CNN this week by the Texas Division of Emergency Management in response to an open records request showed the state spent over $12 million on the bus schedule to August 9. The governor’s office solicited private donations to help cover the cost of the buses, but received only $167,828 as of August 17.

Texas is not alone among state governments in choosing to bus migrants across the country. Since May, more than 1,500 migrants on 43 buses have traveled from Arizona to Washington, DC, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s office told CNN. Depending on demand, the state sends buses to Washington at the rate of about two to three per week, the governor’s office said.

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