They marched in caravans for weeks, past dead bodies while dodging kidnappers and thieves. Now, some of the migrants crowded inside a tiny stucco building just past the Rio Grande were looking at a star scribbled on an envelope carrying their U.S. asylum petitions. Courtesy of the state of Texas, this meant they qualified for a free bus ride to a place that has been largely unprepared to receive them: Washington, D.C. So far, more than 230 buses carrying nearly 9,400 migrants, including families with young children, have arrived in D.C. since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began offering free passage to the nation’s capital in April, with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey following suit in May, the Washington Post reports. Last month, buses from Texas started heading to New York and Chicago, too.
Abbott and Ducey, along with many other Republicans, are focusing increased attention on the record number of border crossings by large groups arriving from South and Central America, and as far away as Senegal. Both governors are using the busloads of migrants as a political statement about what they have called lax Biden administration border policies. The buses have turned into a welcomed pipeline, given that many already had plans to head east, either to live in the D.C. area or somewhere else another bus ride away. In the process, their arrival has turned D.C. into “an unofficial border town,” said Tatiana Laborde, managing director of SAMU First Response, one of the agencies helping the migrants.