What happens when migrants arrive in sanctuary cities?


Cataleya takes a bite of a necatrine alongside her father Elier as they and other migrants wait for a bus to take them to a refugee center outside Union Station in Chicago, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. Chicago officials say 75 immigrants have arrived in the city on buses from Texas, as part of an aggressive border policy by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office confirmed that the migrants arrived Wednesday night and that the city has welcomed them and will make sure they receive shelter and food. (Anthony Vazquez /Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

(NewsNation) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s migrant busing program reached a political boiling point Thursday morning after two charter buses dropped off migrants outside the vice president’s residence in Washington, D.C.

Since he began offering rides to migrants last spring, Abbott has transported more than 10,000 people to so-called “sanctuary cities” across the country. The majority, about 75%, have gone to Washington, though several thousand others headed to New York City and at least 500 have arrived in Chicago.

Democratic mayors have been outspoken against the Texas governor’s program and accused him of using people as political pawns. They say the lack of coordination and cooperation has made it more difficult to support those in need.

But while elected officials spar in the news, what happens to the migrants once they arrive in these cities?


The first two buses carrying about 95 migrants — most of whom traveled from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua — arrived in Chicago at the end of August. At this point, more than 500 have arrived from Texas.

Under Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance, all residents are granted access to city services, regardless of their immigration status.

The city and various community groups have worked with the new arrivals to ensure they have access to food and shelter.

“We remain committed to providing support and resources to our newly arrived neighbors during this transition period,” reads a city website, which was set up to coordinate volunteers and donations.

Several dozen migrants have also been relocated to hotels in nearby suburbs, although at least one local mayor criticized Chicago city officials, saying he was never notified of the plan.

On Wednesday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker called up 75 members of the Illinois National Guard to help organize shelter, food and medical care for the migrants.

new york city

Many migrants arrive at Manhattan’s Port Authority Bus Terminal, where they are greeted by social service charities, processed and provided medical care. From there, some leave in taxis or Ubers to city shelters or designated hotels.

New York City has secured 6,000 rooms at 11 hotels across the city to house migrants, some seeking asylum. The Department of Social Services has filed an emergency declaration asking for 5,000 more rooms.

Asylum seekers have 10 days to gather their required paperwork, such as proof of identification, which they need to qualify for a municipal ID that would allow them to look for permanent housing and jobs. Without it, they will remain in the city’s shelter system.

In the meantime, New York City is providing migrants with legal aid, educational options for the children and workforce assistance for the adults.

washington, d.c.

On Thursday and then again on Saturday, the migrant busing situation came to a head when people were dropped off outside Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Most migrants have arrived at Union Station, where they’ve been met by various nonprofits and aid groups who are working to coordinate care and resources.

Last week, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a public emergency that enables the city to create an Office of Migrant Services, which will receive an initial $10 million to get off the ground.

“The Office of Migrant Services will provide support with reception, respite, meals, temporary accommodations, urgent medical needs, transportation to final destinations, connection to resettlement services, translation services, and other needs as they are determined, ” according to the press release announcing the emergency declaration.

The Pentagon has twice denied the mayor’s request for assistance from the National Guard.

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