Following Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Sunday and his response, New York City Mayor Eric Adams rejoined the feud, accusing Abbott of being racist over his strategy to bus foreign nationals from the border state to northern sanctuary cities.
Abbott’s office says Adams' claims are “outright lies.”
Adams tweeted Monday that Abbott “is once again deciding to play politics with people's lives by resuming the busing of asylum seekers to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver and Washington, D.C."
Last April, in an effort to provide relief to border communities, Abbott first bused foreign nationals who were released by the Biden administration into Texas to Washington, D.C. He later expanded the program to three other cities: Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. Texas hasn’t bused anyone to Denver or Los Angeles.
As of January 2023, Texas bused over 9,100 illegal foreign nationals to Washington, D.C.; over 4,900 to New York City; over 1,500 to Chicago; and over 840 to Philadelphia, according to data from the governor’s office.
Adams said it is “impossible to ignore the fact that Abbott is now targeting five cities run by Black mayors. Put plainly, Abbott is using this crisis to hurt Black-run cities."
Last September, the Democratic mayor of El Paso, Oscar Leeser, and other city officials who are Hispanic men, approved a plan to bus people to New York City and Chicago who were released into El Paso by the Biden administration. Fifty percent of them didn’t have sponsors or money, Leeser said, so they “helped” them move north. El Paso sent 10,713 people to New York City and 3,259 to Chicago in September and October, according to city data.
Last October, Adams asked El Paso to stop, which city officials said it wouldn’t do, though it later reversed course right before the midterm elections. In January, Adams met with Leeser and Democratic officials responsible for busing foreign nationals to his city. He made no accusations of them wanting to “harm Black-run cities.”
On Sunday, Leeser declared a state of emergency ahead of Title 42 ending, including stating the city expects to begin busing people north after learning nearly 40,000 are waiting in Mexico to enter El Paso when Title 42 ends May 11.
After Leeser’s announcement on Sunday, Adams instead attacked Republican Abbott.
Adams also claimed on Monday that foreign nationals were being bused “against their will,” that “security guards [held] them hostage on buses when they tried to get off in other cities, shipped them off while sick and COVID positive, and tagged individuals with barcodes.”
In response, Abbott Press Secretary Andrew Mahaleris said, "Mayor Adams is once again spreading falsehoods and outright lies. He knows full well these migrants willingly chose to go to New York City, since his staff saw firsthand on their secret trip to Texas last year as migrants raised their hands to go on buses to his sanctuary city. Migrants also sign a voluntary consent waiver available in multiple languages upon boarding that they agree on the destination. And they were processed and released by the federal government, who dumped them in small Texas border towns.”
The current process involves adults signing waivers and agreements for themselves and minors under their care to be transported for free to one of four cities by Texas. None are charged for transportation, food, water or security provided to them.
“Mayor Adams, along with Mayor [Muriel] Bowser, Mayor Lightfoot, and Mayor [Jim] Kenney, were proud to tout their self-declared sanctuary city status until Texas began busing migrants to New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Philadelphia to provide relief to our overrun and overwhelmed border communities,” Mahaleris continued.
“With millions of residents, New York is only dealing with a fraction of what our small border communities deal with on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “The real crisis isn’t in New York City – it’s on our southern border, where President Biden’s open border policies have allowed record-high levels of illegal immigrants, deadly drugs like fentanyl, and weapons to surge into our state and country.”
Border Patrol agents in Texas in March alone apprehended nearly 90,000 people and reported more than 38,000 gotaways.
Mahaleris said he agreed with Adams that “the federal government should step in and provide support as the crisis is more than one city can handle,” but added that the Biden administration “should address the true crisis along the southern border and help support the small Texas border towns dealing with the direct burden of the Biden Administration's open border policies.”
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