New York City officials estimated that more than 4,000 immigrants seeking asylum have arrived in the city from Texas, including busloads of immigrants who are at the center of a political showdown initiated by Gov. Greg Abbott.
As part of what has been dubbed Operation Lone Star, Abbott included New York alongside Washington, D.C. as destination cities for chartered buses filled with asylum-seeking immigrants, many of whom are attempting to reach other cities. Democrats, including those from the targeted cities, have described the initiative as a dangerous political stunt.
“This is horrific when you think about what [Abbot] is doing,” Mayor Eric Adams said at a Port Authority press conference on Sunday, when he greeted a bus of asylum seekers. “New York is a city that has always represented democratic values. Showing our values. That’s what we’re doing today.”
The mayor spoke to the media outside of the busy bus terminal Sunday morning, adding that some of the families on the bus wanted to go to another city. But when they tried to explain, they were given no choice, the mayor asserted.
“It is unimaginable what the governor of Texas has done. When you think about this country, a country that has always been open to those who are fleeing persecution and other intolerable conditions,” he said. “We’ve always welcomed that. And this governor is not doing that in Texas. But we are going to set the right message and the right tone of being here for these families.”
Abbott involved New York as a means of trying to force President Joe Biden’s hand on enacting stricter border security measures.
"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," Abbott said in a statement. “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."
Abbott claimed a bus that arrived in New York on Friday with 54 immigrant passengers was the first to be sent by Texas, but New York City officials said they were skeptical, pointing to a considerably larger number of people who have arrived in the city in recent months, though not all by bus.
Manuel Castro, the city’s immigrant affairs commissioner, said Abbott was using immigrants “as political pawns,” and urged the Biden administration to provide federal relief.
“Our budgets are impacted because no one plans for [4,000] or [5,000] or 6,000 or even more people to arrive, so they need a shelter,” Castro said in an interview with Gothamist. “And so of course, that's the assistance we are seeking the federal government to step in.”
Although the city is asking the federal government for emergency relief, it is not talking to officials in Texas.
“Frankly, they're not communicating, coordinating at all,” said Castro. “This is meant to be disruptive, and that's unfortunate. Because we're talking about people's lives.”