Oct. 3—Gov. Greg Abbott isn’t flinching amid Democratic criticism of his busing program that has now sent about 12,000 migrants who have crossed the border in Texas north to cities run by Democratic mayors.
On Monday, another bus dropped off about 50 migrants in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington, D.C. NBC News reported that many of the migrants said they are Venezuelans.
Washington has received the bulk of Abbott’s busing project, which is part of the governor’s wider Operation Lone Star border security program. More than 8,200 migrants have been bused to the nation’s capital, and about 3,000 have been dropped off in New York City. Abbott recently began sending buses to Chicago.
Other cities in the north should start bracing to also get busloads, Abbott warned Friday during a televised debate with Democrat Beto O’Rourke.
“We will continue to have to move migrants because Joe Biden continues to allow more illegal immigrants to come into the state of Texas,” Abbott said.
Abbott began targeting the Harris residence last month after the vice president visited Houston. Abbott and other Republicans have criticized Harris for not visiting the stretches of Texas border where federal border agents are encountering record numbers of people crossing, many of them seeking asylum.
“Our supposed border czar, Vice President Kamala Harris, has yet to even visit the border to see firsthand the impact of the open border policies she has helped implement, even going so far as to claim the border is ‘secure,'” Abbott said last month.
Harris, in an interview last month on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said she and President Joe Biden have been calling on Congress to do more to fix the nation’s immigration issues.
“The border is secure, but we also have a broken immigration system, in particular, over the last four years before we came in, and it needs to be fixed,” she said then.
O’Rourke has been a big critic of Abbott’s busing program, telling the debate audience Friday that Abbott is “treating human beings as political pawns.”
O’Rourke said Operation Lone Star, which has also included sending National Guard troops and at one point shut down commercial traffic crossing from Mexico, has cost the state $4 billion, and yet the surge of migrants continues, proving Abbott’s efforts are not working.
“That’s not making us safer,” O’Rourke told more than 4,000 supporters at a rally with music legend Willie Nelson in Austin on Sunday.
“We’re seeing not fewer, but more encounters at our border right now,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke said that if he’s governor, he’ll push to fix the nation’s immigration problems by creating a safe, legal path for people who want to work, join family or seek asylum in Texas. But O’Rourke has also said he will keep some National Guard troops and Texas Department of Public Safety officers along the border at the request of cities and counties in the area.
Since last October, federal border officials have reported 2.1 million encounters with migrants along the entire U.S.- Mexico border. About 1.2 million of those encounters have been in Texas. The state has seen a spike in border encounters between Del Rio and Eagle Pass, which have seen a surge in migrants fleeing from authoritarian governments in Venezuela and Cuba.
The border has become a big issue for voters, according to public polling. A new Quinnipiac University Poll released last week showed that among 1,327 likely voters in Texas, the border was labeled the most urgent issue by 38 percent of respondents. No other issue topped 17 percent.
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