Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sends bus of migrants to Chicago; previously bussed migrants to NYC, DC

ByLiz Nagy and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team via WLS logo
Thursday, September 1, 2022
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Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced he's sent his first bus of migrants from the Mexican border to Chicago as he did to NYC and DC.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Wednesday he's sent the first bus of migrants to Chicago.

Abbott announced Wednesday night that the first bus had arrived at Union Station, but did not say how many people were on the bus.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot responded to Abbott's announcement in a statement, saying the city had been notified today that approximately 60 migrants were traveling to Chicago.

"Chicago is a welcoming city and as such has collaborated across various departments and agencies to ensure we greeted them with dignity and respect," the statement said in part.

For their safety, we've blurred the faces of the migrants who arrived in Chicago, unless they gave us permission to show them.

For some it was a reunion of relief and pure elation. One mother and father had trekked from Venezuela with their two small children, bound for family in Chicago and a better life.

For others, what comes next is a little less certain.

"We just arrived to Texas and they got us onto our bus and they said someone was going to be waiting for us here, but that was not true," said William Mijares.

Abbott has previously bussed migrants to Washington, D.C. and New York.

"To continue to provide much-needed relief to our small, overrun border towns, Chicago will join fellow sanctuary cities...as an additional drop off location," he said in a statement. "Mayor Lightfoot loves to tout the responsibility of her city to welcome all regardless of legal status, and I look forward to seeing this responsibility in action as these migrants receive resources from a sanctuary city with the capacity to serve them."

"As a city, we are doing everything we can to ensure these immigrants and their families can receive shelter, food, and most importantly protection," Lightfoot's statement continued. "This is not new; Chicago welcomes hundreds of migrants every year to our city and provides much-needed assistance. Unfortunately, Texas Governor Greg Abbot is without any shame or humanity. But ever since he put these racist practices of expulsion in place, we have been working with our community partners to ready the city to receive these individuals."

"I cannot say it was a nice trip, but it was better than what we had during our passing in South America," Mijares said.

"We just left Venezuela, went to Colombia, going through the jungle in Panama," said another man who had just arrived in Chicago. "We were not treated like humans. We were treated like the worst kind of people in the world and we don't understand why, but that's the way they consider us."

Chicago city transit buses will now carry the group to a shelter, where they'll stay safely.

Another man who said his name is William said he hopes to start a new life.

"I want to find a job, just to progress in a very safe country. That's what we want," he said.

Like so many people on these buses, he has six children and a family to provide for.

The state of Texas has spent more than $12 million busing migrants to Washington, DC, and New York who crossed into the state from Mexico, according to figures from the Texas Division of Emergency Management

A state government spreadsheet obtained by CNN through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that, as of August 9, Texas has paid $12,707,720.92 to Wynne Transportation, the charter service that is taking migrants to the two cities.

Abbott's office has said migrants are transported out of state only with their written permission. It is not clear what other options have been offered to the migrants.

In a news release Friday, Abbott's office said that "the busing mission is providing much-needed relief to our overwhelmed border communities."

It is usually the responsibility of released migrants to cover the cost of their travel throughout the US as their asylum cases are pending in court. However the state-chartered border buses have been providing free rides to the north-bound asylum-seekers for months.'

Texas has solicited private donations to help pay for the cost of the bus trips, but the state had only received $167,828 as of August 17. At a news conference in April announcing the program, Abbott acknowledged taxpayers were likely to end up with part of the bill.

State agencies have provided conflicting figures for the exact number of migrants that Texas has bused out of state, ranging from 8,051 to 9,033. That amounts to a cost of at least $1,400 per migrant to transport.

The CNN Wire contributed to this report