WASHINGTON — A group of undocumented migrants arrived in the nation’s capital Wednesday on a bus sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, part of the Republican governor’s strategy to oppose the Biden administration‘s rescinding of a Trump-era border policy.
“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,” Abbott said in a statement Wednesday, adding that another busload is en route.
The migrants, from Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, were being dropped off between Union Station and the Capitol as “part of Governor Abbott’s response to the Biden Administration’s decision to end Title 42 expulsions,” his office said.
Abbott, who is running for re-election in November, said last week that he had directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to charter buses to transport the migrants to D.C. “Texas should not have to bear the burden of the Biden Administration’s failure to secure our border,” he said Wednesday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing that the people arriving in D.C. have all been processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “so it’s nice the state of Texas is helping them get to their final destination as they await the outcome of their immigration proceedings.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently announced that the administration would terminate the Trump-era public health rule, known as Title 42, which the U.S. has used since the spring of 2020 to stop the spread of Covid by preventing immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to claim asylum.
The policy, which is set to be lifted on May 23, has prevented more than 1.7 million attempts by immigrants to cross the border during the pandemic. DHS officials have warned of a potential surge of more than 170,000 migrants if Title 42 is lifted.
Last week, Psaki said she was “not aware of what authority the governor would be doing that under” when asked about Abbott’s busing plan and if the administration would help the migrants find a place to stay once they arrive in D.C.
“I think it’s pretty clear this is a publicity stunt,” she said. “His own office admits that a migrant would need to voluntarily be transported and that he can’t compel them to. Because again, enforcement of our country’s immigration laws lies with the federal government, not a state.”
It’s unclear how many migrants were on the bus that came Wednesday morning and where they went after arriving in D.C.
Zoë Richards contributed.