WASHINGTON – It wasn’t quite on the steps of the US Capitol, but it was terribly close.
A charter bus carrying Texas migrants on a recently announced plan by Gov. Greg Abbott arrived in Washington on Wednesday morning.
The bus stopped at an intersection a few blocks from the Capitol, near Union Station, shortly after 7 a.m. Central.
This location is also located next to a building that houses the operations of several television channels, including Fox News.
The network aired footage showing migrants getting off the bus one by one, clutching manila envelopes and wearing hospital-style bracelets on their wrists.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a letter last week ordering the Texas Emergency Management Department to provide bus transportation for migrants released from federal detention in cities bordering Mexico – if the migrants volunteer.
Despite assurances from Texas officials that the program is completely voluntary, some civil rights groups have raised legal questions about the plan, largely focused on whether migrants could feel compelled to board buses.
Proponents of the bus service have described it as a desperate attempt by Texas to deal with disrupted federal immigration policies in general and the increase in migrants expected when the pandemic border restrictions are lifted next month.
Critics, however, see the governor leaning heavily on a hot button issue to step up his re-election campaign. Last week, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki dismissed the bus plan as a “publicity stunt.”
According to Fox News, 23 migrants got off the bus on Wednesday morning and waved to him as he left.
That includes 19 men, four women and two young children, according to Fox, and includes people from Nicaragua and Venezuela.
In a statement early Wednesday, Abbott confirmed the arrival of the first bus and said it included migrants from Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. He said a second bus was on its way to Washington.
“As the federal government continues to turn a blind eye to the border crisis, Texas will remain steadfast in our efforts to fill the gaps and keep Texas safe,” Abbott said. “By transporting migrants to Washington, D.C., the Biden administration will be able to respond more directly to the needs of the people they allow to cross our border. Texas should not bear the brunt of the Biden administration’s failure to secure our border.
It was not immediately clear how the return point for the first bus was chosen, but social media users were quick to point out its proximity to the Republican-preferred cable news channel.
“Greg Abbott is sending a bus full of migrants to Fox News headquarters, proving what we already know: Operation Lone Star is nothing more than a tax-funded publicity stunt,” Texas Democrats wrote on Twitter.
Several Venezuelan migrants who were on the bus told a CNN reporter that they arrived at the border on Sunday to seek asylum and were released pending immigration proceedings.
The migrants said they were offered a bus trip to Washington and accepted it voluntarily.
The first migrants, transported by bus from Texas, arrived at the Union Station in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he would send migrants to the capital in defiance of Biden’s border policy. I talked to some of these migrants. 🧵
– Priscilla Alvarez (@priscialva) April 13, 2022