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November 25, 2022

Two more buses carrying migrants from Texas arrive in Philadelphia

Approximately 80 more asylum seekers were dropped off at 30th Street Station on Friday morning

Immigration Migrants
Migrant buses three and four arrive in Philly from Texas Colleen Claggett/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia has now received four buses carrying migrants sent from Texas, where thousands of people who crossed the southern border seeking asylum in the U.S. have been dispersed since the spring. The bus pictured above arrived on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

Two more buses containing asylum seekers arrived at 30th Street Station on Friday morning, bringing the total number of chartered vehicles to reach the city from Texas so far up to four.

The third bus arrived in Philadelphia around 6 a.m., with about 45 people on board including two children, The Inquirer reported. The fourth bus pulled in two hours later, and approximately 81 passengers in total were expected.

MORE: Philly prepares to open first tiny house village to transition homeless residents into permanent housing

Passengers were checked for medical emergencies and offered blankets and coats. They were then transferred to a SEPTA bus, which was driven to a city-run welcome center located in North Philadelphia, where many are expected to depart for other destinations in the region. City officials and immigrant leaders worked to ensure the transfer ran smoothly.

Like the first bus that arrived on Wednesday, Nov. 16, and the second bus that arrived on Monday, Nov. 21, the third and fourth buses dropped off the latest group of immigrants sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, whose state has sent more than 300 buses to sanctuary cities in the U.S. since April. About 150 people have been dropped off in Philadelphia in the last 10 days.

Abbott, along with governors of other southern states like Arizona and Florida, have spent millions of dollars transporting asylum seekers to cities such as New York, Chicago, Washington and Philadelphia after they crossed the nation's southern border. More than 13,000 people have been sent from these states as part of a Republican pressure campaign to increase border security and drive immigration reform.

In a statement issued Nov. 18, Abbott's office said that the busing program is part of the state's wider Operation Lonestar mission that aims to deter the smuggling of drugs, weapons and people into "overwhelmed border communities." Abbott was re-elected to a third term as Texas governor earlier this month. 

Abbott did not issue a statement Friday morning in regards to the buses' arrival in Philadelphia, but on the morning of Nov. 21, the second drop-off, he tweeted, “Texas is doing whatever it takes to provide relief to our overwhelmed border communities.”

All of the migrants who have arrived in sanctuary cities have been approved for entry into the U.S. to pursue their claims for asylum. The sanctuary city description refers to local government policies discouraging law enforcement from reporting undocumented migrants to federal ICE agents without an order from a judge.

Since August, Philadelphia's Office of Immigrant Affairs and Office of Emergency Management have coordinated with 15 community organizations to provide shelter, emergency health screenings, food and water to those who arrive. The migrants are also being offered legal services, including education on their rights and the asylum process.

The practice of busing migrants on multi-day journeys has faced sharp criticism as a political stunt that puts the health of asylum seekers at an unnecessary risk. For instance, among the group that came to Philadelphia last week was a child who was hospitalized at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia with severe dehydration and a high fever. 

It's unclear how long buses may continue to be sent to Philadelphia. Last week, Mayor Jim Kenney said that the city is prepared to welcome additional migrants if Texas continues to send them to Philadelphia.

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