Texas migrants bused to LA Union Station in latest salvo from immigration wars

The group included children, whose conditions were being assessed after riding on a bus with no food or water for 23 hours, one official said.

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Mirroring recent moves by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, dozens of immigrants were bused from the Texas border area to Los Angeles and dropped off on Wednesday, June 14, at downtown’s Union Station, at the behest of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, prompting a swift rebuke from L.A. Mayor Karen Bass, who slammed the action as a “cheap” political stunt using humans as “pawns.”

All told, 42 immigrants — among them said to be eight children, including babies and toddlers — were dropped off at the depot, said Jorge-Mario Cabrera, director of communications for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA). They were taken to St. Anthony’s Croatian Catholic Church in nearby Chinatown, where they were expected to stay the night. Los Angeles Fire Department crews responded to ensure none of them had any medical issues.

Related: Relief groups rally to help migrants bused to LA 

Cabrera said they were on the bus with no food or water for 23 hours, but their conditions were unclear late Wednesday. Police and fire officials were directing all such inquires to the mayor’s office. Bass’ office said they were in the process of documenting the group’s conditions.

In a statement, Abbott said this was the “1st bus of migrants” dropped off by Texas in Los Angeles.

“Texas’ small border towns remain overwhelmed and overrun by the thousands of people illegally crossing into Texas from Mexico because of President Biden‘s refusal to secure the border,” Abbott said in the statement. “Los Angeles is a major city that migrants seek to go to, particularly now that its city leaders approved its self-declared sanctuary city status. Our border communities are on the front lines of President Biden’s border crisis, and Texas will continue providing this much-needed relief until he steps up to do his job and secure the border.”

It was unclear if additional buses might be en route.

Bass said her office was aware of the bus’ arrival and was ready to greet the migrants when they arrived. She said her office had been preparing for such a moment, given similar recent actions across the country at the order of Republican governors.

“It is abhorrent that an American elected official is using human beings as pawns in his cheap political games,” Bass said in a statement.

“Shortly after I took office,” she added, “I directed City Departments to begin planning in the event Los Angeles was on the receiving end of a despicable stunt that Republican Governors have grown so fond of. This did not catch us off guard, nor will it intimidate us. Now, it’s time to execute our plan. Our emergency management, police, fire and other departments were able to find out about the incoming arrival while the bus was on its way and were already mobilized along with nonprofit partners before the bus arrived.”

Lindsay Toczylowski, with the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, explained lawyers are still trying to piece together what documents the migrants have and what their path to asylum will look like.

“We are meeting their hopes for safety and protection here at this welcome center, and by providing them with legal information, including a “Know Your Rights” presentation — giving them the information they need to protect themselves,” Toczylowski said.

But much about the migrants, including what information they had in hand that led them on to the bus, was not clear.

“We don’t know the information they were given to get on the bus,” Cabrera said.

Even confirming their identities appeared difficult, given little documentation.

The Los Angeles City Council last week approved a motion directing various city departments to take the steps required for Los Angeles to officially become a sanctuary city for immigrants.

In April 2022, Abbott directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to charter buses to transport migrants from Texas to Washington, D.C. Since then, Abbott has also sent migrants to Denver, New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia. The governor’s office has said that about 20,000 migrants have been transported to cities who have passed measures embracing sanctuary status for immigrants. Abbott’s office has said that such moves have offered “much-needed relief to Texas’ overwhelmed border communities.”

Earlier Wednesday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said his office sent public records requests to DeSantis’ office and the Florida Division of Emergency Management seeking information about the recent transport of two groups of immigrants from Florida to northern California.

Bonta said his office is investigating whether any laws were broken by Florida in shipping the three dozen migrants to Sacramento. Gov. Gavin Newsom has suggested DeSantis could potentially face kidnapping charges for transporting the migrants to California, although Florida officials have insisted the migrants went to Florida voluntarily and signed documents agreeing to the travel.

“Contrary to what some may want to think – California is also a border state but instead of demonizing asylum seekers, we focus on working with local communities to support and humanely welcome people,” said Daniel Lopez, the governor’s communications director. “Regarding the recently arrived families, the state is in close communication with the County and City of Los Angeles, and our community partners. Together, we will make sure that the children and families who arrived are safe and welcomed.”

As news spread of the latest transport, other elected officials were chiming in.

“As the author of California’s Sanctuary State in 2017 and son of an immigrant mother, I can tell you that Governor Abbott’s heartless exploitation of asylum seekers is not shocking and reflects a tremendous lack of leadership,” said Councilmember Kevin de Leon. “Callously trafficking vulnerable human beings around for cheap political points reflects a moral bankruptcy that has no place in politics and Los Angeles will not allow this repugnant display of political opportunism to undermine our commitment to ensuring that every person, regardless of origin, is treated with dignity and respect.”

U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) issued a statement late Wednesday.

“Once again, Republicans exploit vulnerable migrants for cynical political gain instead of choosing to work with Democrats to fix our broken immigration system. California will not play Republican’s cowardly games and will treat asylum seekers with the dignity and humanity they deserve.”

Last week’s L.A. City Council action to set in motion sanctuary status for the city was previously OK’d by the council’s Civil Rights, Equity, Immigration, Aging and Disability Committee and the Public Safety Committee. It instructs the city attorney to prepare a draft ordinance within 60 days to prohibit “any city resources, property or personnel from being utilized for any federal immigration enforcement.”

It would also prohibit city cooperation with federal immigration authorities in “execution of their duties” as it pertains to immigration enforcement.

Councilwoman Nithya Raman, who introduced the motion with council members Eunisses Hernandez and Hugo Soto-Martínez, thanked “all the advocates, lawyers and organizations” who work to educate and protect the rights of immigrants.

“For many people in Los Angeles who have been advocating for the city to become an official sanctuary city for many years, this is a long overdue process,” Raman said.

Then-Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive directive in 2019 that offered protections to the immigrant community, but it lacked the permanence of a city law, according to Raman.

The council in a 12-0 vote, with council members Bob Blumenfield and John Lee absent, supported the motion Friday to create an official ordinance and codify existing protections set forth in the executive directive.

Last week, DeSantis’ administration said that three dozen migrants whom the state flew from the U.S. southern border to California on private planes all went willingly, disputing allegations by California officials that the individuals were coerced to travel under false pretenses.

The admission of responsibility — five days after the first flight touched down in California’s capital — only served to heighten tensions between DeSantis and Newsom, his frequent political sparring partner.

Two planes arrived in Sacramento, each carrying asylum-seekers mostly from Colombia and Venezuela. The individuals had been picked up in El Paso, Texas, taken to New Mexico and then put on charter flights to California’s capital of Sacramento, said Bonta. He is investigating whether any violations of criminal or civil law occurred.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register


  1. Dr. Trent Saxton says

    A self-declared sanctuary city, you get what you asked for. We are all paying for them thanks to Biden Democrats.

  2. Concerned says

    Biden, just obey the law!. Close the boarder!

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