Republican governors of border states send busloads of illegal newcomers — who have been released into their states by the Department of Homeland Security — to DC and New York City, prompting recriminations and pleas for federal money from the Democratic mayors of those former immigrant-friendly cities.
Those mayors are seemingly unconsciously making the point of the governors — that the government has caused a disaster on the US-Mexico line, necessitating an immediate policy change to protect lives and state and local finances.
It started in April. The Texas government, Greg Abbott (R), was tired of the federal releases of large numbers of migrants in congested small towns in his state (including Uvalde) and began offering migrants free bus trips to DC to take some of the burden to to move Washington.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) followed suit in May, and since then more than 7,300 migrants from the two states have arrived in DC, leading to what even Vanity Fair has called “A migrant crisis in Washington.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), who reaffirmed her city’s status as an immigrant “sanctuary” after Donald Trump’s 2016 election, now derides Abbott and Ducey’s efforts as “brutal political game play” that represents a “humanitarian crisis.” in her city that “should be dealt with at the federal level” in a letter to the Department of Defense requesting support from the National Guard (since denial).
Bowser complained about what at the time totaled 4,000 migrants to her city of more than 707,000 in a three-month period. By comparison, in March, DHS dropped off up to 150 migrants per day in Uvalde, with a population of 15,312, or about one migrant per 102 residents per day.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) also weighed in and accused Texas and Arizona in July of bus transporting 2,800 migrants to his city (population: 8.467 million) over a six-week period, putting pressure on the city’s homeless shelters. to stand. Adams also demanded federal money to help his government muddle through.
Both governors denied Adams’ charges, but Abbott apparently saw it as an invitation, as he has just started sending buses to Manhattan.
Adams’ office and The New York Times described those migrants in New York as “asylum seekers,” but that’s usually not true. Statistics from the DHS show that between July 2021 and July 2022, the department cleared fewer than 40,000 “arriving aliens” to apply for asylum in the United States.
During that same period, however, CBP found 2,361 million arrivals at the southwestern border, 1,142 million displaced under the CDC’s pandemic-related Title 42 orders (which Biden nevertheless opposes), and about 853,000 released into the United States — meaning only about 5% of the migrants Adams complains about are really ‘asylum seekers’.
All those migrants, approved for asylum or not, were released for removal hearings, which can take years. Nationally, the average immigration case is 829 days pending and 953 days in New York. The only aid available to most of those illegal immigrants is asylum, so those who do appear in court will seek that protection to stay here longer, even if they just came to make more money.
The New York Times article focused on Venezuelan migrants in New York City. Under Biden, agents on the southwestern border have rounded up 157,600 Venezuelans, 57% of them singles. Only 1404 were expelled under Title 42, meaning most of the rest are here indefinitely.
The Times argues that the United States cannot return them to Venezuela — with which America has no diplomatic ties — but that claim disproves the fact that, as The Washington Post reported in January, Biden struck a deal with Colombia to take back Venezuelans. who had settled there.
Two million displaced Venezuelans have moved to Colombia and more than a few are believed to have entered illegally. However, it does not appear that the DHS sent many back or even asked the detained Venezuelans where they lived before coming here.
I’m sympathetic to DC and New York City, but I’ve talked to officials in those much poorer frontier towns about their struggle to cover the costs. Perhaps now that the Democrats are complaining, the government will finally pay attention.
Andrew Arthur, former INS associate general counsel, congressional officer and director of staff, and immigration judge, is a resident of the Center for Immigration Studies in Law and Policy.