Texas sending next busload of migrants to Philadelphia, Abbott announces

PAUL J. WEBER
The Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday that Philadelphia will be the next destination for migrants the state is transporting from the U.S.-Mexico border by the thousands to Democratic-led locales, putting a new bus on the road a week after the Republican easily won reelection.

He did not say how many migrants were on board or whether more than one busload was sent. But in a shift, Abbott said a “first bus” was due to arrive Wednesday, publicly offering some advanced notice of an arrival following criticism over buses that suddenly turned up in New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

Texas has transported more than 13,000 migrants to those cities since April. Abbott has sent the buses to Democratic-led cities as a way to maximize exposure over what he says is inaction by the Biden administration over high numbers of migrants crossing on the southern border.

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Critics have waved off the buses as a political stunt, but voters rewarded Abbott last week with a record-tying third term as Texas governor in his race against Democrat Beto O'Rourke. Abbott made a series of hardline immigration measures the centerpiece of his campaign.

Nearly 6 in 10 voters favored Abbott's decision to send migrants to northern cities, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of almost 3,400 voters.

In a statement announcing the bus trips to Philadelphia, Abbott's office said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney “has long-celebrated and fought for sanctuary city status, making the city an ideal addition to Texas’ list of drop-off locations."

FILE - Carlos Munoz reaches out to hug Larkin Stallings of Vineyard Haven, Mass., as the immigrants prepare to leave St. Andrews in Edgartown, Mass., Sept. 16, 2022. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took the playbook of a fellow Republican, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, to a new level by catching officials flat-footed in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., with two planeloads of Venezuelan migrants. On Tuesday, Nov. 15, Abbott said that Philadelphia will become the next destination for migrants who the state is transporting from the U.S.-Mexico border by the thousands. (Ron Schloerb/Cape Cod Times via AP, File)

Kenney's office did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment. But in anticipation of a bus arriving from Texas, he said over the weekend that migrants would be welcomed.

“We will welcome them with open arms and do everything we can to make the transition smooth,” Kenney said Sunday, WPVI-TV reported. “It doesn’t matter whether they found their way up here, whether they were put on a bus — they are human beings. They want to be in America. They want to do what all of our, most of our ancestors have done, is just make their life in America.”

Arizona and Florida have also sent migrants to northern U.S. cities.