Greg Abbott Busing Migrants to D.C. So Biden 'Can Better Deal With Them'

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the state will provide charter buses to send migrants who have illegally entered the United States to Washington, D.C.

In a Wednesday press conference, Abbott said Texas has been "overwhelmed by hordes of illegal immigrants who are being dropped off by the Biden administration."

"We are sending [the migrants] to the United States capital 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 said.

The announcement comes a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would end its Title 42 restrictions at the border due to a decline in COVID-19 cases. The controversial order had been in place since the Trump administration, barring migrants from crossing the border over concerns of spreading the virus. The measure kept an estimated 200,000 migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. since its implementation.

There are more than 1.7 million "unauthorized" immigrants in Texas, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The Texas Division of Emergency Management will oversee the migrants' transport, which the agency said will start by Thursday, KXAN-TV reported.

In a statement released April 1, Abbott called the decision to rescind the restrictions "reckless," adding that President Joe Biden's "open-border policies" have caused the state to take measures such as deploying state Department of Public Safety troopers and more than 10,000 Texas National Guard members, jailing people attempting to cross the border illegally and becoming "the first state to ever build a wall to secure our border."

"Ending Title 42 expulsions will signal to cartels and migrants alike that our southern border is now wide open—inciting even more violence, more trafficking and more lawlessness," Abbott said.

The removal of Title 42 even received criticism from some members of the Democratic Party, with Arizona Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema issuing a joint statement expressing their worry about what they said was a "lack of a specific plan" from the Biden administration on how to proceed with this change.

"... we urge your Administration not to make any changes to Title 42 implementation until you are completely ready to implement and coordinate a comprehensive plan that ensures a secure, orderly, and humane process at the border," they wrote.

However, critics of Title 42 said it was not necessary to prevent COVID-19 spread, with Avril Benoît, executive director for Doctors Without Borders, saying there has "never been any legitimate public health justification" for it.

In a statement, the CDC said it deemed the rule no longer necessary due to "current public health conditions and an increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19."

Ed Espinoza, president of Progress Texas, said in a statement sent to Newsweek that Abbott's move is just "political theater."

"Whether from Ukraine or Central America, seeking asylum is a human right," Espinoza said. "Governor Abbott's Operation Lone Star at the border is a total failure, yet he wants to double down with the kind of activity that is ineffective and is demoralizing troops. It's no coincidence that Abbott's action comes within a week of a poll showing him dropping 10 points since December—this is a campaign tactic meant to demonize immigrants and shore up Trump voters."

Update 4/7/22 2:50 p.m. ET: This story was updated to add a statement from Ed Espinoza of Progress Texas.

Abbott Says He'll Send Migrants to Biden
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the state will send illegal migrants to Washington, D.C., on charter buses. Above, Abbott speaks during the "Get Out the Vote" campaign event on February 23 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images