Abbott pushes back on Chicago narrative as first flight arrives from border



(The Center Square) – Texas’ governor is pushing back against claims made by Chicago’s mayor after the Windy City received the first flight from Texas transporting 120 migrants from the border. The mayor complained as 10,000 people illegally entered one area of Texas, inundating Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection agents and state and local law enforcement.

Mayor Brandon Johnson took aim at Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this week, accusing him of creating chaos at the southern border. He said, “The issue is not just how we respond in the city of Chicago. It’s the fact that we have a governor, a governor, an elected official, in the state of Texas that is placing families on buses without shoes, cold, wet, tired, hungry, afraid, traumatized. And then they come to the city of Chicago, where we have homelessness, we have mental health clinics that have been shut down and closed, you have people who are seeking employment.

“The governor of Texas needs to take a look in the mirror of the chaos that he is causing for this country this is not just a Chicago dynamic he is attacking our country.”

In response to his comments, Gov. Abbott’s press secretary Andrew Mahaleris, told The Center Square. “Mayor Johnson is flat out lying. If he truly cared about these migrants, he would stop spreading falsehoods and complaining about a few thousand migrants being bused into his sanctuary city. Instead, Mayor Johnson should call on President Biden to take immediate action to secure the border—something the President continues failing to do.”

Johnson made the remarks after the city filed 55 lawsuits against 77 “rogue buses” for transporting illegal foreign nationals from the border that violated new city rules governing when and where they can be dropped off, The Chicago Tribune reported. Over 24,400 have arrived since August 2022. However, the Biden administration had been transporting illegal foreign nationals well before that, including unaccompanied minors. Since 2015, Illinois has received 10,755 unaccompanied minors, The Center Square first reported.

In response to Chicago’s action against buses, Texas launched its first migrant flight to the Windy City from El Paso on Dec. 19, with 120 migrants arriving that night.

“Because Mayor Johnson is failing to live up to his city’s ‘Welcoming City’ ordinance by targeting migrant buses from Texas, we are expanding our operation to include flights to Chicago, like the Biden Administration has been doing across the country,” Mahaleris said. The difference is that Texas is being transparent; “President Biden has been flying planeloads of migrants all around the country and oftentimes in the cover of night,” he said.

Johnson’s comments appear to contradict the sanctuary status platform he ran on. It states: “Chicago has always been a place that immigrants, migrants and refugees have called home.

“Chicago is a sanctuary city. As such, we must always resist attempts to pit communities against each other and extend this sanctuary promise to everyone who needs it in our city – both long-time residents and newcomers alike.”

Texas has transported more than 25,300 people to Chicago since August 2022 after they illegally entered the U.S. and were unlawfully released into Texas by the Biden administration, Gov. Abbott has argued. Chicago was the third sanctuary city destination chosen by Abbott when he began his busing strategy in April 2022.

Everyone who boards a bus or plane leaving Texas for one of six self-described sanctuary cities willingly chooses to go there, according to Texas policy. The adults sign voluntary consent waivers for themselves and the minors under their care, which are available in multiple languages, prior to boarding. The waivers state they agreed on the destination, Mahaleris said.

“Each bus is stocked with food and water and makes stops along the trip to refuel and switch drivers. Migrants are allowed to purchase any extra provisions or disembark at any of these stops, as they have been processed and released by the federal government,” he said.

As of Dec. 21, through Abbott’s border security mission, Operation Lone Star, Texas has sent over 85,400 people to the six sanctuary cities of Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has said he wants the program to expand to the president’s home state of Delaware.

By comparison, more than 1.9 million illegal border crossers have entered Texas from January 2021 to Sept. 30, 2023.

As Johnson complained about 120 people on a flight, Texas is experiencing a crisis in Eagle Pass, with over 4,500 people being processed in one day at one CBP facility nearby after over 5,000 were already being held inside, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. In addition to that, on Saturday alone, in one enforcement action after stopping a single driver, Eagle Pass CBP officers seized fentanyl and heroin with a street value of nearly $1 million.

In addition to the busing strategy, Gov. Abbott also took unprecedented action by being the first governor to build Texas’ own border wall signed a first-of-its kind law that makes illegal entry from a foreign nation a state crime.

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