WASHINGTON — Editor's Note: A previous version of this article erroneously referred to those on the bus as undocumented migrants. All of the migrants were processed by CBP and released with notices to appear at a future date for their immigration hearings.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has announced that a bus carrying approximately 30 people seeking asylum arrived in D.C. Wednesday -- a situation that some doubted would actually come to fruition, speculating the suggestion was more theatrical than literal. A second bus arrived from Texas around 3:30 a.m. Thursday.
Abbott first announced on April 6 that the state would send people crossing the U.S. border from Mexico to the steps of the US Capitol. Abbott’s announcement came as he voiced opposition to President Joe Biden lifting Title 42, the public health policy the Trump administration started during the COVID-19 pandemic. It allows the government to quickly expel migrants and asylum seekers who come to the U.S. from countries where an infectious disease -- like COVID-19 -- is present.
"We are sending them 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," Gov. Abbott said during a press conference on April 6.
According to Abbott, the bus that arrived in the capital Wednesday was filled with migrants from Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Sister Sharlet Ann Wagner with Catholic Charities, and a long-time immigration attorney, was one of the few who welcomed the group to D.C. Wednesday morning.
"The ones I talked to had just been on a long and very difficult journey, trying to get up to the United States and fleeing difficult situations," Wagner said. "They're asking for political asylum. Some are fleeing persecution."
About half of those on the first bus are a long way from knowing what's next or how they'll get there, according to Catholic Charities.
The governor did not specify how many migrants total are being bused to the capital. It was not specified what, if any, resources the migrants would be provided.
"As the federal government continues to turn a blind eye to the border crisis, the State of Texas will remain steadfast in our efforts to fill in the gaps and keep Texans safe," he said in a statement regarding the decision. "By busing migrants to Washington, D.C., the Biden Administration will be able to more immediately meet the needs of the people they are allowing to cross our border. Texas should not have to bear the burden of the Biden Administration’s failure to secure our border."
Abbott ultimately directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to charter the buses to transport migrants from Texas to the District.
Abbott said after speaking with leaders of cities and counties along the border, "They are angry and upset about all of the catastrophes caused by the Biden open border policies and they are urgently asking for action . . . It’s the Biden administration that caused this open border problem.”
The governor said that, by President Biden’s own projections, his decision to end Title 42 expulsions could soon result in as many as 18,000 migrant apprehensions per day.