The mayor of El Paso, Texas, has defended his move to send thousands of illegal immigrants on buses to New York, saying that city officials are doing so to ensure that the individuals don’t end up homeless or hungry.
“The people are not coming to El Paso, they’re coming to America,” Oscar Leeser, a Democrat, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sept. 18. “We don’t send anyone where they don’t want to go. We make sure we help them.”
Leeser, who served as mayor from 2013 to 2017 before being reelected last year, said nearly 2,000 illegal aliens arrived on Sept. 16 and that those numbers are continuing to increase.
“And that’s because a lot of the people, probably about 80 percent of them, are coming from Venezuela,” he said. “And that’s where a big part of the migrant surge is coming from.”
Leeser said city officials communicate with the immigrants and treat them in a humane way, establishing where their destination is and then aiding them to reach it.
“We put them on buses with food and make sure they get to their destination and make sure that we always continue to greet and treat people like human beings,” he said. “We have about 50 percent of the people today that do not have a sponsor, they do not have money, so we’re helping and working to get them to where they want to go.”
Texas has bused more than 2,500 illegal immigrants to New York since Aug. 5, according to Gov. Greg Abbott, while El Paso has sent at least 1,135 illegal immigrants on 28 buses to New York since Aug. 23.
Leeser and El Paso’s Democrat-controlled city council will be seeking reimbursement for the chartered buses they’ve placed illegal aliens on through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, officials said in August.
However, Abbott, a Republican, has faced criticism from Democrats over his decision to send the illegal immigrants from the U.S.–Mexico border to various Democrat-run areas of the country, also known as “sanctuary” cities, such as Washington and Chicago, with some accusing him of “human trafficking” the immigrants.
However, Abbott has defended his decision to bus the illegal aliens to various other cities in the face of a mass immigration crisis in Texas. The Republican leader has repeatedly taken aim at President Joe Biden’s open border policies, which he says are overwhelming Texas communities.
‘Open Border Policies’
“Because of President Biden’s continued refusal to acknowledge the crisis caused by his open border policies, the state of Texas has had to take unprecedented action to keep our communities safe,” Abbott said in an August statement.
“In addition to Washington, D.C., New York City is the ideal destination for these migrants, who can receive the abundance of city services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams has boasted about within the sanctuary city. I hope he follows through on his promise of welcoming all migrants with open arms so that our overrun and overwhelmed border towns can find relief.”
In that same month, New York opened up emergency hotels to handle the influx of illegal immigrants, while Adams took a swipe at the Texas governor’s handling of the situation.
“When you think about this country, a country that has always been open to those who are fleeing persecution and other intolerable conditions, we’ve always welcomed that,” he told reporters on Aug. 9. “This governor is not doing that in Texas, but we are going to send the right message, the right tone, of being here for these families.”
About 4.9 million people have illegally crossed into the United States from Mexico since Biden took office in January 2021, according to a report released in August.