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Migrants on ‘first bus’ from Texas arrive in Philadelphia

PHOENIX (NewsNation) — The Republican-led effort to bring migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to sanctuary cities is once again picking up steam as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott bused more migrants to Democratic-led locales a week after he won reelection.

A bus carrying about 38 migrants arrived around 6:15 a.m. at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station Wednesday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The bus departed from Del Rio, Texas on Monday.

Abbott did not say how many migrants were on board or whether more than one busload was sent. But in a shift, he said a “first bus” was due to arrive Wednesday, publicly offering some advanced notice of arrival.

In a statement announcing the bus trips to Philadelphia, Abbott’s office said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney “has long-celebrated and fought for sanctuary city status, making the city an ideal addition to Texas’ list of drop-off locations.”

Kenney said he would greet the arrivals with “dignity and respect” and condemned Abbott’s actions.

“It is truly disgusting to hear today that Governor Abbott and his Administration continue to implement their purposefully cruel policy using immigrant families — including women and children — as pawns to shamelessly push his warped political agenda,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

Republicans claim the effort is meant to highlight the shortcomings of current immigration law, but not all sides agree — including the mayors of these so-called sanctuary cities.

Kenney said the city had been working with more than a dozen local organizations to provide the migrants with shelter space, emergency health screening, food, water, language interpretation and more. Some will likely make their way to other states: Kinney said that according to the local organizations, only three migrants reported that Pennsylvania was their final destination, while others reportedly plan to head to places such as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts.

Abbott has sent more than 300 buses carrying more than 13,000 migrants to Democratic-led northern cities since April. Here’s a breakdown: More than 8,300 were sent to Washington, D.C., more than 3,700 to New York City, more than 1,200 to Chicago and now more than 30 to Philadelphia.

Abbott has sent the buses to Democratic-led cities as a way to maximize exposure over what he says is inaction by the Biden administration over high numbers of migrants crossing the southern border.

Abbott maintains that the federal government has failed to secure the border, so he is bringing the border crisis to larger cities that can handle the influx.

All of this comes as the mayors of D.C., New York City and Chicago have declared some form of state of emergency regarding the influx of migrants arriving in their cities — calling on the federal government for help, to no avail.

The city of El Paso sent more migrants to New York City than Abbott as it was experiencing a surge in mostly Venezuelan migrants. But because the efforts were coordinated, El Paso received little backlash for the move. The city discontinued the busing practice on Oct. 20 — a week after the Biden administration announced new rules for Venezuelan migrants requiring immediate expulsion.

Meanwhile, Arizona and Florida have also sent migrants to northern U.S. cities.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey continues to send buses, saying that is where the problem with the border originated. So far, Ducey has sent only sent 70 buses, with more than 2,500 migrants, to Washington, D.C.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.