October 7, 2022

ELECTION STUNT: Greg Abbott and his immigrant busing fundraising FAIL MISERABLY

ELECTION STUNT: Greg Abbott and his immigrant busing fundraising FAIL MISERABLY

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When Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott announced he was going to bus migrants from the Southern border to Washington, D.C., he apparently didn’t think about how to pay for it – raising just over $100,000 to cover the $7 million bill.

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The Governor’s office originally claimed that there was an “outpouring of support from across our state and the entire country of people wanting to help and donate to the operation,” the Texas Tribune reported. Abbott raised $63,000 the first week the busing operation was announced – but only managed another $60,000 haul between then and July 2022, bringing the total to $118,297.

Abbott’s all-expense paid trip for undocumented migrants has been praised by Democrats, immigrant rights groups, and passengers who often lacked the money to reach their intended destination.

“Congratulations to Governor Abbott,” Texas Rep. Gene Wu said Tuesday in a tweet. “Word will be passed from community to community that if you can just get to Texas, the Governor there will pay for your transportation anywhere in the USA.”

26-year-old Venezuelan Ordalis Heras, thanked Abbott for the ride, telling Texas Tribune, “Frankly, we did not have the money to get here otherwise, so we are very thankful for the help.”

After President Biden said the administration would be ending his predecessor’s Title 42 “Remain in Mexico” policy for migrants, Abbott wasted no time with his latest border stunt. Since April, nearly 8,000 migrants have been bused from Texas to northern states – over 6900 have been transported to the Capitol, while another 360 have been bused to New York City.

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The action sparked condemnation and criticism from both cities’ mayors – and ignited a quasi-feud between New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Texas’ wannabe-fascist Governor.

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“This is horrific when you think about what the governor is doing,” Adams said in an early morning visit to the Port Authority bus terminal, where he greeted a bus transporting arriving migrants, Politico reported.

Abbott blamed President Biden for the cost to Texas taxpayers of busing refugees from the border, saying in April that “Securing the border would cost Texas nothing if the federal government was doing its job.” But with the governor’s move to crowdfunding, the mission is seen by some as a deflection for the failed effort.

Rice University political science professor Mark Jones said, “I think it’s a quiet way of protecting himself from criticism that he’s using taxpayer dollars to provide free transport for undocumented migrants.”

In June, NBC 5 reported the cost of busing migrants from Texas to D.C. cost over $1400 per rider – higher than a first-class plane ticket from Southern TX cities to the country’s capital.

NBC 5 Investigates found plane tickets from border towns McAllen and Del Rio, Texas to Washington D.C. for about $200-$300. First-class tickets were in the $800-900 range, still less than the cost of a seat on the Republican governor’s border buses,” the TV news outlet reported.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management has been given the task of handling the busing, and records provided to NBC, show that the financial burden has fallen to Texans – not the federal government as boasted by Abbott.

Security costs have exceeded $1 million – with the state being billed for mileage even for buses returning empty from D.C.

Abel Nunez, Executive Director of the Central American Resource Center in Washington D.C., called Abbott’s actions a “political stunt.” As head of one of the immigrant rights groups that meet the migrants upon arrival, Nunez said over 90% of migrants bused to the Capitol have no intention of staying. “They are moving on to other parts of the country.”

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Abbott has pledged to use any leftover funds to finish his border wall. Being that he’s $6.9 million short of the $7 million needed so far – that may be difficult. Having raised enough to cover the transport of fewer than 10 migrants. He should take the advice of Catholic Charities’ Sister Sharlet Wagner who said, “It would be wonderful if they’d buy just an economy (plane) ticket and send them where they want to go instead of putting them on a bus to Washington, D.C.”

A Greyhound bus ticket from McAllen, TX to New York City costs a little over $200 one way. Perhaps MAGA supporters aren’t very eager to pay nearly seven times that just to help Greg Abbott score political points with the base.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams joked about sending New Yorkers down to Texas to knock on doors and campaign against Abbott. Wonderful idea!  Perhaps a busing fundraiser to help kick the repressive Republican Texas governor out of office is in order?

Original reporting by Shepherd Price at The San Antonio Express-News

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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