The price tag of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s much politicised campaign of sending migrants arriving on the southern border to Washington, DC and New York City has cost the state $12m, CNN reported.
Since the Republican governor announced the costly program in April, the Lone Star state has reportedly doled out $12,707,720.92 to Wynne Transportation, the charter service tasked with ferrying the recently arrived migrants to the sanctuary cities.
CNN uncovered the receipt for the controversy-stirring effort, which was once labelled as “kidnapping” by critics, by filing a Freedom of Information Request with the Texas Division of Emergency Management. The organization later confirmed that the state had spent the $12m on the program since its inception until 9 August.
Gov Abbott, who began bussing undocumented immigrants to the nation’s capital back in April, continued with his pledge to upset politicians who have criticised his border policies by expanding that effort into New York City earlier this month when the first bus arrived at Port Authority Bus Terminal.
“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,” said the Republican first term governor in a statement released on 5 August.
“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,” the governor quipped, noting that he hopes that the New York mayor “follows through on his promise of welcoming all migrants with open arms”.
Earlier in the summer, when the program had only been running for two months, The Daily Mail reported that the expense of the buses going up and down the eastern coastline had cost the state nearly $2.9m.
That skyrocketing figure has since ballooned to $12.9m. While the governor had warned when announcing the shuttle service that the program would indeed end up costing taxpayers, they likely didn’t estimate that it would amount to hundreds of dollars per passenger.
“Because (President) Joe Biden is not securing the border, the state of Texas is having to step up and spend Texas taxpayers’ money doing the federal government’s job,” the governor said in April.
According to the state’s most recent figures, the buses have escorted somewhere between 8,051 to 9,033 migrants north to DC and New York. Given those estimates, that would work out to about $1,400 per ticket.
A website was created by the governor in an effort to solicit private donations to help offset the skyrocketing cost of the bussing program, but as of 17 August, that collection had totalled to just $167,828, according to CNN.
Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona also took a page from his Texan counterpart this past May and similarly began bussing migrants landing at his border to the nation’s capital.
Elected officials in the two cities, both federal and municipal, have slammed the governors’ bussing programs as being part of a larger “political stunt”.
Last month, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser accused the pair of “tricking” the newly arrived groups by transporting them to the capital. New York Mayor Eric Adams said earlier this month that migrants have been “forced on the bus with the understanding that they were going to other locations that they wanted to go”.
Mr Abbott has pushed back against these accusations, claiming in a comment to Fox News about the New York mayor’s comments that all migrants are provided with a waiver, which is reportedly written in multiple languages, before they board onto buses heading for DC and New York.
At the federal level, the bussing programs of the two governors have been characterised by the Biden administration as throwing the federal system for processing migrants “out of whack”.
“That lack of coordination wreaks problems in our very efficient processing,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said to CNN in an interview last week.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has echoed the DHS secretary’s sentiments in earlier statements, characterising Gov Abbott’s actions as causing “chaos”, while urging him to stop “meddling” in a federal issue.
“Immigration enforcement is a federal authority, and states should not be meddling in it,” the White House press secretary said during a press briefing in June. “Especially Texas Gov Abbott, who has a track record of causing chaos and confusion at the border.”
The first term governor is up for re-election and will be facing off against Beto O’Rourke, a former Democratic senatorial and presidential candidate, in the November midterms.
The Independent reached out to Gov Abbott’s office for comment on the bussing program cost but did not hear back immediately.