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Gov. Greg Abbott sends five more buses of migrants to New York, escalating feud with Mayor Eric Adams

By Stephen Neukam, The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott sends five more buses of migrants to New York, escalating feud with Mayor Eric Adams” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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WASHINGTON — Five more busloads of migrants who crossed the border from Mexico into Texas reached New York City on Wednesday as Gov. Greg Abbott escalated his feud with the city’s mayor with a victory lap op-ed in the New York Post.

The latest group of buses is the biggest to reach the East Coast city in one day since Abbott began the policy in early August, according to Fox News. In the biting op-ed, the governor accused New York City Mayor Eric Adams of hypocrisy when it comes to his border policies.

“Adams talked the talk about being a sanctuary city — welcoming illegal immigrants into the Big Apple with warm hospitality,” Abbott wrote. “Talk is cheap. When pressed into fulfilling such ill-considered policies, he wants to condemn anyone who is pressing him to walk the walk.”

The New York arrivals are an expansion of Abbott’s plan to bus migrants voluntarily to Washington, D.C., in April — an effort that was initially designed to antagonize President Joe Biden as Abbott criticized him over border security. But in recent months, Abbott has gleefully stoked new feuds with the Democratic mayors in Washington and New York as they’ve complained about the impact of migrants in their cities.

Bringing the dispute to the pages of one of the city’s newspapers, Abbott admonished Adams for seeking federal help with the influx of migrants. Adams’ press secretary, Fabien Levy, has said on Twitter the city will continue to welcome asylum-seekers with “open arms” but admitted the city still needs support from Washington.

But as Abbott ratchets up his confrontation with the largest city in the U.S., questions have surfaced about the long-term effects of the governor’s busing policies.

Data from Syracuse University suggests that the movement from Texas to New York City may be opening an easier pathway to asylum for the migrants, helping them stay in the country longer. New York courts have approved just over 70% of asylum relief or other relief applications since 2001. Houston has denied nearly 88% of asylum-seekers. Dallas has denied over 72% of such applications.

Some Republicans have observed the busing as a messaging stunt rather than an effective policy solution to the state’s border dilemmas. U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, told CNN on Sunday that Abbott is “sending a message.”

“This isn’t a policy move,” Crenshaw told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “This is a move of desperation to get someone to pay attention to what we’re dealing with in Texas.”

While Crenshaw characterized the policy as an earnest attempt to draw attention to the Texas-Mexico border, others argued the move was a campaign tactic to keep Abbott’s name in the news in the middle of a competitive general election showdown.

Brandon Rottinghaus, a political scientist at the University of Houston, said the feud with New York makes Abbott a national name in the middle of his campaign against Democrat Beto O’Rourke and ahead of a possible presidential bid in 2024.

“Whether he runs for president or not is beside the point,” Rottinghaus said. “He’s national headline news, and that gets the attention of Republican donors and conservative activists around the country.”

But the tactic carries risk for Abbott. Rottinghaus warned that the governor may come off as insensitive in dealing with border issues, making it more difficult to court Latino voters.

“It’s such an unprecedented move, so it rallies Democrats in Texas and the rest of the nation to give, participate and vote,” Rottinghaus said. “This boosts Democrats in a normally sleepy midterm election and spikes donations for O’Rourke, who will need a massive war chest to be competitive in November.”

Disclosure: The University of Houston has been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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