Gov. Abbott pushes back on Christmas migrant bus criticism as nation awaits Title 42 ruling
AUSTIN — Despite criticism after a bus from Texas dropped off more than 100 migrants near the doorstep of Vice President Kamala Harris' official residence on one of the coldest Christmas Eve nights in Washington's history, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott doubled down on his controversial initiative on Tuesday.
"Texas has bused over 15,900 migrants to sanctuary cities," Abbott tweeted on his account for official state business. The tweet offered a breakdown of how many migrants so far have been bused to cities outside of Texas.
More than 8,900 have been sent to Washington, which has received more than half of all who have voluntarily agreed to make the trip. New York City has taken in about 4,900, Chicago has received more than 1,500, and more than 630 have been sent to Philadelphia, Abbott said.
"We’re providing relief to local communities overwhelmed by President Biden’s open border policies," said the Republican governor who will be sworn in for a third four-year term next month.
More:Buses with migrants have dropped off outside of VP Harris' house before. Why Christmas Eve was different.
The tweet went out as the nation was awaiting a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on the future of Title 42, a Trump-era COVID containment measure that allows the U.S. to expel asylum-seeking migrants to Mexico or their country of origin. The Biden administration is seeking to end the policy, officially put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But most Republicans, including Abbott and the GOP congressional leadership, want the policy to remain in place.
A ruling from the high court could come at any time.
Reports of the bus drop-off near Harris' residence launched a viral Christmas Day response on social media.
More:What is Title 42, when does it end, how does it impact US-Mexico border? Here's what to know
"Worthless @GovAbbott dropping off people with no money and no means on Christmas Eve in 15 degree weather near the VP’s residence. How Christian of you, Greg Abbott," tweeted Democratic U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, who ended the message with a common social media abbreviation describing the governor in vulgar terms.
Others on social media offered take-offs on "no room at the inn," shorthand for the reason Jesus was born in a manger instead of in a more hospitable setting.
Others defended Abbott against such posts. "Why don’t you take care of them, open your house, your food and money and take them in?" one person responded.
The White House called the move — part of an initiative Abbott launched earlier this year to send migrants who have been cleared by immigration officials to remain in the United States at least temporarily to cities with Democratic mayors — "a cruel, dangerous, and shameful stunt."
Abbott's office pushed back with force, pointing out that the bus trips are voluntary and saying the administration is doing too little to enforce federal immigration laws.
"The White House is full of a bunch of hypocrites, led by the Hypocrite-in-Chief," Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze said in a statement to news outlets. "Instead of their hypocritical complaints about Texas providing much-needed relief to our overrun and overwhelmed border communities, President Biden and Border Czar Harris need to step up and do their jobs to secure the border—something they continue failing to do."
John C. Moritz covers Texas government and politics for the USA Today Network in Austin. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @JohnnieMo.
This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: Greg Abbott doubles down on migrant bus plan despite Christmas backlash