Abbott, Texans Push Back Against Washington Mayor’s Claims Over Illegal Immigration

By The Center Square
The Center Square
The Center Square
The Center Square was launched in May 2019 to fulfill the need for high-quality statehouse and statewide news across the United States. The focus of our work is state- and local-level government and economic reporting. www.thecentersquare.com
July 22, 2022 Updated: July 22, 2022

Texas leaders are pushing back against claims made by Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser after she blamed Texas for her city’s struggles to deal with illegal immigrants.

Bowser said that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and others are “tricking” illegal immigrants by transporting them to Washington. Abbott says the only “lie” being told is by the Biden administration about a border crisis the administration created.

Bowser told CBS News’ Face the Nation that she’d called on the federal government “to work across state lines to prevent people from really being tricked into getting on buses” whose final destination isn’t Washington. Roughly 100 people a day are arriving and the city’s homeless shelters are full, she said.

The City Council also sent Bowser a letter requesting that she provide additional resources and ask the federal government for help.

“We condemn these actions by Governors Abbott and [Arizona Gov. Doug] Ducey, who have demonstrated no regard for people who are exercising their human right to seek asylum. The District, on the other hand, has a history of serving all residents who settle here, regardless of immigration status,” the city council members wrote.

The “sanctuary city” of Washington is a welcoming place, Bowser said, “because we know that our neighborhoods are safer and stronger when no one is afraid to call on our government for help.”

Because many illegal immigrants being released into the United States have shown they have no way to support themselves, once they arrive to the U.S. capital, they are finding limited assistance.

One humanitarian aid worker told CNBC News: “We do not have the ability to sustain this. If they’re coming in from Texas but need to get to New York, that is an expensive endeavor.” Because those arriving appear to have no money and their connections in the United States appear to not be helping them, some arriving are sleeping in the city’s homeless shelters, parks, and on the street.

One Venezuelan man told CNBC News that he was “in a good place” living in Venezuela but he wouldn’t have “gone through that journey” to enter the United States illegally if he knew he would have ended up on the streets in Washington.

Muriel Bowser
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser (R) speaks at a news conference at the John Wilson Building in Washington on March 14, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Abbott directed the state’s emergency management division to transport foreign nationals to Washington after the Biden administration began releasing them into the United States instead of deporting them or requiring them to remain in Mexico while their claims are adjudicated. Texas also has sued over a range of policy changes the administration has implemented that it argues violate immigration and other federal laws.

On April 6, Abbott began the busing scheme as another measure to thwart illegal immigration impacting the state.

“We are sending them to the U.S. Capitol where the Biden administration will more immediately be able to address the needs of the people that they are allowing to cross our border,” he said.

In two months’ time, Texas had spent $2.9 million to bus 1,778 people to Washington at Texas taxpayers’ expense, The Center Square previously reported.

As to the mayor’s claims, Renae Eze, Abbott’s press secretary, told The Center Square, “The only lie is the Biden Administration telling the American people that our border is closed. President Biden’s open border policies have created an ongoing humanitarian crisis, with record-high illegal crossings and deadly drugs like fentanyl flooding into our state.

“Border communities are overrun and overwhelmed,” she added, and the governor launched the border bus mission … to help provide support to these communities pleading for help where the Biden Administration is dumping migrants. With our nation’s capital now experiencing a fraction of the disaster created by President Biden’s reckless open border policies that our state faces every single day, maybe he’ll finally do his job and secure the border.”

John Hostettler, a vice president with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said, “Texas hasn’t ‘tricked’ the illegal immigrants heading north. It is the Biden administration who has fooled potential asylum seekers into believing that making the dangerous journey will result in them receiving special status to stay in America. In truth, the vast majority of asylum claims are ultimately denied.

“If Mayor Bowser would like to stop the influx of migrants into her city, she should instead join the calls to fix the root cause of illegal migration: an administration that encourages illegal crossings and refuses to secure the border,” he added.

The Texas legislature has so far allocated more than $4 billion to border security efforts through Operation Lone Star and Texas is the first state in U.S. history to build its own border wall.

By Bethany Blankley

The Center Square was launched in May 2019 to fulfill the need for high-quality statehouse and statewide news across the United States. The focus of our work is state- and local-level government and economic reporting. www.thecentersquare.com