NEW YORK (Nexstar) — On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott traveled to the city where Texas has sent the largest number of migrants as part of his signature policy that he said helps border communities deal with illegal immigration.
The Texas Republican visited New York City to speak about the ongoing border crisis in a fireside chat with the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, on Wednesday. More buses arrived from the state during Abbott’s visit, according to a source familiar with the matters in the governor’s office.
“What you’re dealing with in New York, what you are seeing and witnessing in the state is a tiny fraction of what is happening every single day in the state of Texas,” he said.
Since starting the busing initiative in April 2022, Texas has sent more than 15,800 immigrants to New York City — and sending more than 25,000 immigrants to Washington D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles in total.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has criticized Abbott for the initiative, calling him a “mad man” for sending buses while his city grapples with the crisis. The city has declared a state of emergency, as Manhattan is now having to turn away asylum seekers with overwhelmed shelter systems. Images and videos of immigrants sleeping on the sidewalk have circulated around the internet, as Adams says the city is reaching a breaking point.
“New York should not be experiencing this and we’re going to continue to push for the right funding, calling for a state of emergency,” Adams told Nexstar affiliate WPIX. “This is not a utopia. New York City cannot manage 10,000 people a month with no end in sight. That can’t happen, and that is going to undermine this entire city.”
Texas’ share of busloads only represents a small fraction of immigrants coming to New York. As of last week, 116,000 asylum seekers have arrived in the Big Apple since April 2022 according to Adams’ office.
Muzaffar Chishti, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, said asylum seekers are likely to head to New York for a variety of reasons — namely because of the city’s “right to shelter” mandate. Chishti said Abbott’s busing initiative has been effective in the sense that non-border states and cities can see the issues firsthand, but questioned its efficacy beyond that.
“We have never seen a response to migration issue in New York or in D.C. or in Philadelphia, Chicago as we have seen, so he’s made his point,” he said. “But that does not make him right. I mean, just because he has made a point is, is sort of taking away from the real problem that this is not a red state versus blue state problem. It is a national crisis. And you don’t solve national crisis by making [a] political stance.”
Adams and Abbott may have some common ground, as the New York mayor said he thinks there should be a “staying in Mexico or any of the bordering localities” policy. Abbott is a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump’s keynote “remain in Mexico” policy, which ended in 2022. It required asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases were pending.
New York City could be spending upward of $12 billion dealing with the influx of asylum seekers, Adams said in early August. On Wednesday, Abbott said that these mayors should be pressing the Biden administration harder on addressing the humanitarian crisis through policy change, not funding.
“New York and other states are going to continue to deal with this. They must prevail upon their president for more than just money. They need a change in policy,” Abbott said.
Chishti said these serious issues will continue as long as the federal government puts off making reforms to the immigration system, specifically how the U.S. processes asylum seekers.
“No one is looking at the problem holistically,” he said.
According to an August 2023 poll from the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, voters are just about split on the issue. Forty-eight percent of Texans polled said they support Abbott’s policy of sending migrants awaiting asylum hearings to other parts of the country, whereas 41% oppose the measure and 11% said they don’t have an opinion.