AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas began flying migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to Chicago on Wednesday, a week after the city took a tougher stance on the buses that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has been sending north since last year.
The first flight of 120 migrants arrived in the afternoon, according to Abbott’s office.
The governor directed state officials to begin busing migrants to Democratic-led cities starting in April 2022. Over 80,000 migrants have since been relocated through the effort as part of the governor’s multi-pronged border security mission, known as Operation Lone Star, including 23,000 to Chicago.
Chicago’s city council voted last week to toughen penalties on bus operators that don’t unload passengers at a designated arrival location or fill out city paperwork. The city has said operators began trying to drop people off in neighboring cities to avoid penalties including fines, towing or impoundment.
Concerns have arisen about the living conditions and medical care provided for asylum-seekers arriving in Chicago, spotlighted by the death last weekend of a 5-year-old boy living at a temporary shelter for migrants.
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment about the flights.
Abbot spokesman Andrew Mahaleris said in a statement that the decision to start sending migrants there by plane was made because Johnson is not living up to Chicago’s “Welcoming City” ordinance and “targeting migrant buses from Texas.”
“Until President Biden steps up and does his job to secure the border, Texas will continue taking historic action to help our local partners respond to this Biden-made crisis,” Mahaleris said.
Abbott’s multibillion-dollar border effort has also included stringing razor wire along the frontier, installing buoy barriers in the Rio Grande and deploying more officers.
The Associated Press