When Texas and Arizona's Republican governors began busing immigrants out of their states last year, they said it was to protest Democrats' "reckless" federal immigration policies. Democrats criticized the tactic as dehumanizing, especially when migrants were misled about where they were going. Some cities and states led by Democrats later warmed to the practice, most recently Arizona's new governor, Katie Hobbs. "If we're spending money to bus people, why just not get them to their final destination?" Hobbs said, NPR reports. People have always traveled within the U.S. once they claim asylum at the border.
In El Paso, the Democratic administration bused more than 13,000 people last fall, outstripping buses from the state of Texas in some cases. Mayor Oscar Leeser said he was coordinating with officials in the receiving cities, unlike Gov. Greg Abbott. However, the city stopped its own busing program in October, and the only government-backed bus program there now is run by the state of Texas. In December, thousands of people started showing up in Denver on their own. The city set up emergency shelters as temperatures dipped outside. It also bought bus tickets for 1,900 people, helping them get to 35 states. "It goes along with food and shelter and clothes and toiletries. Those bus tickets are part of this huge humanitarian effort," says Josh Rosenblum, a city and county spokesperson.