• Thu. Dec 1st, 2022

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Top border official hits back at Texas Gov. Abbott for busing migrants to Washington, D.C.

The head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection criticized Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday for busing migrants from the southern border to Washington, D.C., without consulting with federal officials.

“Governor Abbott is taking actions to move migrants without adequately coordinating with the federal government and local border communities,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement.

Migrants from Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua who had crossed the southern border from Mexico arrived by bus in the nation’s capital Wednesday as “part of Governor Abbott’s response to the Biden Administration’s decision to end Title 42 expulsions,” the governor’s office said in a statement this week.

Abbott’s office was referring to a recent announcement by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that the Biden administration would terminate the Trump-era public health rule known as Title 42, which the U.S. has used since the start of the coronavirus pandemic to prevent immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to claim asylum, citing the spread of Covid.

Migrants who were transported on a bus from Texas are seen outside of Union Station in Washington, DC, on April 13, 2022.
Migrants who were transported on a bus from Texas gather outside Union Station in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.Craig Hudson for The Washington Post via Getty Images

The policy, which is set to be lifted May 23, has prevented more than 1.7 million attempts by immigrants to cross the border since spring 2020, and Homeland Security officials have warned of a potential surge of migrants after the policy is no longer enforced.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki mocked Abbott’s move as “a publicity stunt” Wednesday, while Magnus suggested Thursday that it posed a potential safety issue.

“We all have a shared interested in maintaining safe, orderly, and humane immigration processes, and assistance from the state should be carefully coordinated with us,” his statement said.

Ordalis Rodríguez, 26, a migrant originally from Venezuela who was transported on a bus from Texas
Ordalis Rodríguez, 26, a migrant originally from Venezuela who was transported on a bus from Texas, holds her daughter, Luciana, 1, as her husband, Víctor Rodríguez, 27, looks on outside Union Station in Washington on Wednesday. Craig Hudson / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Abbott, a Republican running for re-election who has been highly critical of President Joe Biden’s border policies, said last week that he had directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to charter buses to transport the migrants to Washington because “Texas should not have to bear the burden of the Biden Administration’s failure to secure our border.”

Abbott said Thursday he plans to continue sending migrants to Washington.

“We will transport as many as possible,” he told reporters after Magnus issued his statement. “There is another bus in transit as we speak right now.”