As a Tropical Storm Bore Down on Southern California, Texas Sent Migrants on a Bus to Los Angeles

Uriel J. García, The Texas Tribune

Texas sent three dozen migrants to Los Angeles as the city was struck by Hilary, the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, which caused record rainfall and flooding in parts of the region.

According to a coalition of immigrants rights advocacy groups, 37 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, were put on a bus in Brownsville at 5 p.m. Sunday — shortly before Hilary moved into California after striking Baja California, Mexico — and arrived in Los Angeles at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

According to the coalition of groups, most of the asylum-seekers who arrived on Monday evening have sponsors or relatives in Los Angeles. The migrant group was made up of 16 families, which included 14 children and one infant.

Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, said that Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to send migrants to Los Angeles during a life-threatening hurricane was “reckless.”

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass called Texas’ move “evil” on social media.

“That means that while we were urging Angelenos to stay safe, the Governor of Texas was sending a bus with families and toddlers straight towards us KNOWING they’d have to drive right into an unprecedented storm,” Bass wrote on Monday evening.

On Tuesday, Andrew Mahaleris, a spokesperson for Abbott, said in a statement that the bus driver “rerouted out of an abundance of caution and took a cautious path to Los Angeles to keep all on board safe.”

Mahaleris added that the migrants voluntarily took the trip to Los Angeles and that each bus is stocked with food and water and that migrants can make purchases during fuel stops.

“Instead of complaining about Texas providing much-needed relief to our overrun and overwhelmed border communities, Mayor Bass needs to call on President Biden to step up and do his job to secure the border — something he continues failing to do,” Mahaleris said.

Since April 2022, Abbott has ordered that Texas send migrants who have been processed and released by immigration authorities to what he has referred to as sanctuary cities for migrants — mainly large cities run by Democrats. He has defended his policy, saying Texas border cities and towns are overwhelmed by the number of migrants crossing from Mexico.

As of Aug. 18, Texas has transported at least 31,940 migrants to New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

The strategy is part of his multibillion-dollar Operation Lone Star aimed at deterring migrants from crossing the Rio Grande into Texas.

Some advocacy groups have criticized Abbott for using migrants to make a political statement. Meanwhile, some migrants have said that getting a free bus ride from the Texas government has helped them arrive at their final destinations after crossing the border.

The strategy received renewed criticism when a 3-year-old child died earlier this month on a Texas-sponsored bus from Brownsville to Chicago.


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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/08/22/texas-migrants-bus-los-angeles-tropical-storm-hilary/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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