But Governor Greg Abbott’s Effort Still Couldn’t Stop Communities From Coming Together To Help
For nearly two years now, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott has been callously using migrants as human pawns, busing thousands of men, women, and children seeking safety to regions governed by Democratic leadership. Texas has claimed its fight is about immigration policy and order when in reality the state has been intentionally stoking chaos by impeding efforts by advocates that sought to ensure smoother arrivals, an investigation has found.
CBS News reveals that the state initially provided logistical information to Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition Operations Director Tiffany Burrow, a border advocate who was coordinating with organizations outside the state. Then, “without explanation,” state officials shut her out completely. Texas then cruelly reversed a previous decision that prevented buses from dumping families in the middle of the night.
“A spokesperson for the state’s Division of Emergency Management, Seth Christensen, seemed to confirm this, saying that the state ‘is not involved in the coordination’ with nonprofits about bus departure and arrival times — even though the state is running the busing program and, according to Burrow, had at first provided her with logistical information she could use to coordinate arrivals,” the report said.
Of course, Texas’ cruelty has already been on full public display. In 2022, Abbott observed Christmas Eve by dumping as many as 130 migrants in front of the official residence of Vice President Kamala Harris. It was just 18 degrees that evening, a record cold there for that time of year, The Washington Post reported at the time. The location where migrants were dumped “appears to have more political significance than logistical purpose,” the report noted. “While other buses have stopped at Union Station, the Naval Observatory [where the VP’s home is located] is not near any other transportation hubs.”
Nor was this a one-off display of cruelty. Last summer, a migrant child died after falling ill aboard a bus heading from Texas to Chicago. “After a 3-year-old began showing signs of distress, the bus of asylum-seekers traveling from Brownsville to Chicago pulled over and an ambulance was called. The child later died at a hospital in Illinois,” The Texas Tribune reported.
Then this winter, Abbott also refused a plea from Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker to pause transporting migrants to the region during the bitter cold snap in Chicago and other northern cities, noting in a letter that some migrants transported by Texas didn’t have jackets or proper shoes. “Your callousness, sending buses and planes full of migrants in this weather, is now life-threatening to every one of the arrivals,” he wrote. “Hundreds of children’s and families’ health and survival are at risk due to your actions.” Abbott refused the request.
But despite Texas’ best efforts to sow disorder, local communities and organizations pressed on, harnessing their expertise and power to welcome newly arrived people in California, Illinois, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.
Guerline Jozef, one of our champions and founder of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, “set up a new center to keep up with the new migrants that she has welcomed into Southern California,” KCAL News reported. It’s just one of the organizations helping connect migrants with sponsors, lodging, and information as they seek new lives here. To date, the groups have helped more than 1,300 people. “People like me, Americans like me, have come together around the country,” Jozef said. “In LA, we are receiving people. In San Diego, we are receiving people — in New York, in Chicago, in Denver.”
In Washington, D.C., volunteers connected Alberto Valdes Garcia to a Quaker guest house, where he was able to rest and shower, The New York Times reported in 2022. At a coffeehouse, volunteers asked other migrants “what they needed, fed them, provided clothes and children’s toys, and helped sort their paperwork and make plans for the next leg of their journeys.” There were also reminders to check in with federal immigration officials as needed, in order to ensure continuity to their pending immigration cases.
“In a way, it’s actually perfect,” Welcome With Dignity spokesperson Bilal Askaryar told The Times. “Unintentionally, Governor Abbott sent them to one of the best places in the nation to welcome people.”
That same year, hundreds of migrants were treated to their first Thanksgiving feast in Chicago, independent media outlet Borderless reported. “We’re grateful to be in a place that received us with open arms,” one migrant said at the time. These Thanksgiving dinners continued into 2023. Volunteer Hope Vaughn and Maria Giota, a Venezuelan migrant, prepared a Thanksgiving dinner to share at a community dinner at St. Agatha Catholic Church, Chicago Tribune reported.
“This is the perfect time to give thanks to God for all the support we’ve gotten,” Giota said in the report. “We are grateful for people like Hope who has embraced us — for the city that has taken us in and is giving us the opportunity to progress as a family, as individuals.”
While some migrants have even said they appreciated the Texas-funded bus ticket because it helped them get closer to their final destination, it wasn’t lost on Jozef that Abbott’s mission has been to sow chaos and disorder. “He has laid a trap,” she said in the CBS News report. Still, advocates have been determined to persevere. “We are seeing it around the country that what was meant to really degrade migrants and asylum seekers has been turned around into a way to fuel the country to become welcoming communities.”
Abbott’s cruelty has been on display over and over and over. He meant it when he recently said, “The only thing that we’re not doing is we’re not shooting people who come across the border, because of course, the Biden administration would charge us with murder.” And, his actions show he has no concern for human life. But, fortunately, a lot of people do.