Texas is chartering buses to drop migrants off at the US Capitol, governor says

Texas is chartering buses to drop migrants off at the US Capitol, governor says
Texan Governor Greg Abbott speaks to reporters along the Rio Grande on Sep 21, 2021.Julio Cortez/The Associated Press
  • Gov. Greg Abbott said Texas is sending migrants to DC where the Biden administration can help them.
  • One Texas official said the plan would involve more than 900 charter buses.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday announced a slew of measures to address migrants arriving at the southern border, including busing them across the country to Washington, DC.

"To help local officials whose communities are being overwhelmed by hordes of illegal immigrants who are being dropped off by the Biden administration, Texas is providing charter buses to send these illegal immigrants who have been dropped off by the Biden administration to Washington D.C.," Abbott said during a press conference.

"We are sending them to the United States Capitol where the Biden administration will be able to more immediately address the needs of the people that they are allowing to come across our border," he continued.

The plan would involve providing buses and flights for migrants who have been processed and released by the Department of Homeland Security, according to a statement from the governor's office. The migrants would have to volunteer to go and would need to show documentation from DHS.

The statement also said Texas mayors and county judges can notify the state government and request the rides if there is a "DHS-facilitated drop-off of migrants in their communities."


Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, senior policy counsel at the nonpartisan American Immigration Council, said some migrants may wish to go to Washington, DC, but that if any are transported against their will it could be violation of federal law.

"If Governor [Abbott] wants to offer charter buses for migrants to join their family in the DC metro area while they go through the asylum process, I think many would be glad to take him up on that offer. DC is a vibrant immigrant community and many of our local nonprofit organizations would be more than willing to pitch in and help with such a generous offer," he said in an email to Insider.

"On the other hand, if he's suggesting that migrants could be forced onto buses and taken to DC against their will, that sounds dangerously close to federal felony kidnapping," he added.

Abbott claimed he was responding to the Biden administration announcing plans to end Title 42, a Trump-era rule enacted during the pandemic that allowed immigration authorities to turn away all migrants at the border, even those who were seeking asylum, which is a right under international law.

The busing plan is to be carried out by the Texas Division of Emergency Management. TDEM did not immediately respond to questions from Insider about details of the plan.


Nim Kidd, chief of TDEM, told CBS Austin more than 900 buses would be used in the operation.

Other plans announced by Abbott, who is up for reelection in November, include a zero-tolerance policy for vehicles suspected of smuggling migrants and various blockades at water crossings, such as the Rio Grande River.

The number of migrants arrested at the southern border hit a record high in 2021, boosted by the number of repeat crossers who had been previously expelled under Title 42.

The number of arrests has dropped slightly this year, though it remains high compared to previous years, according to Customs and Border Protection data.

The White House did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.