Texas Governor Fires Back at NYC Mayor Over Bused Border Migrants

'"This is America" and we need to start acting like it. Damn right!'

By Andrew R. Arthur on August 26, 2022

In the latest chapter of the ongoing battle between Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) and New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D), Abbott took to the pages of the New York Post on August 23 to complain, “Eric Adams is all talk when it comes to ‘open’ borders.” He not only has a point, he’s got several, each of which the administration should start listening to.

Busing Migrants from the Border. This battle began back in March, when DHS started releasing migrants it apprehended entering illegally at the Southwest border into small Texas towns, including Uvalde (about 60 miles from the Rio Grande, population 15,312) and Carrizo Springs (50 miles from the line, population 4,796).

That overwhelmed their limited local resources, and a lack of transit offered the migrants few opportunities to move on. In response, Abbott on April 6 announced he would offer released migrants bus transportation to the seat of the federal government, Washington, D.C.

Thereafter, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey got in on the act and started sending his own migrant buses to the banks of the Potomac. By late July, around 3,500 migrants had been transported to the National Capital area.

That triggered Muriel Bowser (D), mayor of Washington, D.C. (population 707,109) in late July to ask the Department of Defense (DoD) for not only 150 National Guard troops, but also a “suitable federal location” to serve as a housing and processing center. DoD politely declined in early August, but invited the mayor to provide a “more specific” appeal.

Around the time that Bowser asked for federal aid in dealing with this comparatively limited number of migrants, Adams piped up as well. As the New York Times reported on July 25:

Early last week, Mayor Eric Adams called for federal assistance to help with what he said was a flood of 2,800 asylum seekers who were making it difficult for New York City to fulfill its legal obligation to provide housing to those in need, known as the right to shelter.

Mr. Adams said the influx was partly caused by migrant families “arriving on buses sent by the Texas and Arizona governments.”

That was a mistake, because up to that point, neither Texas nor Arizona was busing migrants to the Big Apple. Abbott, viewing the mayor’s statements as an invitation, however, started busing migrants to New York in early August.

The Thus Far Unanswered Invitation. Thereafter, Abbott upped the ante. On August 1, he sent a letter to Mayors Bowser and Adams, in which he stated:

Your recent interest in this historic and preventable crisis is a welcome development — especially as the President and his Administration have shown no remorse for their actions nor desire to address the situation themselves. As Governor, I invite you to visit our border region to see firsthand the dire situation that only grows more urgent with each passing day, and to meet with the local officials, who like yourselves, realize this matter deserves immediate federal action. I also ask you to join me in requesting President Biden secure the border and put an end to this disastrous crisis.

To date, neither mayor has taken Abbott up on the offer, but Adams’ press secretary Fabien Levy did respond, expressing the “hope” of the mayor’s office that Abbott would “focus his energy and resources on providing support and resources to asylum seekers in Texas as we have been hard at work doing in New York City”. From personal knowledge, I can assure Levy Texas is doing its fair share, thanks.

Getting personal and upping the ante, however, Levy also asserted that Abbott’s “continued use of human beings as political pawns is disgusting, and an embarrassing stain on the state of Texas”.

The Rhetoric and the Response. At this point, it is helpful to back up and look at the mayors’ prior immigration rhetoric.

Six days after Donald Trump was elected president, on November 14, 2016, Bowser “reaffirmed” her city’s status as a “sanctuary city” and celebrated the town’s “diversity and respect” for “all DC residents no matter their immigration status”.

For Adams’ part, he was only recently elected, and New York City was a sanctuary city more than a decade before he took up residence at Gracie Mansion, but in April 2019 he also sent his own response to Trump’s immigration policies, tweeting:

Abbott’s Reply. Abbott fired his latest salvo back at Adams in his August 23 Post op-ed, which begins: “Mayor Adams likes to pat himself on the back for welcoming migrants with open arms to his sanctuary city. That is, until he actually has to follow through on those lofty promises.”

The governor argues that Adams’ claims migrants were “forced on” buses to his city are “fabricated” and “have no basis in reality”, part and parcel of “a publicity campaign fueled by outright lies and misinformation intended to distract from [Adams’] hesitancy to provide the services and support he self-righteously touted on the campaign trail”.

“Worst of all”, Abbott contends, “is Adams’ hypocrisy”, specifically his pleas for federal aid to handle the migrants Texas has transported to his city after standing “silent when President Biden flew migrants into New York, many of whom ended up in New York City.”

The governor also compares the costs migrants are imposing on New York City to the burdens borne by towns like Uvalde and Carrizo Springs, complaining, “What Adams is dealing with is a trifle of what small border towns grapple with daily” with two million migrants crossing the Southwest border “in the past 11 months — many of them pouring into Texas towns with populations far fewer than 50,000.”

Abbott then broadened his scope, first attacking Adams’ description of Abbott’s busing scheme as “inhumane” and then asking:

Where is his self-righteousness when it comes to the fact that Biden’s open-border polices are enticing illegal immigrants to trek — mostly by walking — thousands of miles through treacherous regions in Central America and Mexico, often subjected to rape and torture. Many of those migrants are killed or otherwise lose their lives attempting to come here, but that does not trouble Biden enough to meaningfully discourage such illegal immigration. To do so would violate his campaign promise to allow open-border policies if elected.

The governor finishes his screed by noting:

Mayor Adams likes to sloganeer that “This is America” and we need to start acting like it. Damn right! We are a nation of laws. It’s time to start enforcing them. Doing that would begin to restore the “humanity” he is clamoring for.

Actually, Adams uses the phrase “This is America” and iterations of it quite often, to describe baseball (“this is America's sport”) and his city, and even to paper over botched election returns. He also used it in congressional testimony about gun violence, stating:

This is America. If we want to remain the land of the FREE, then we must be BRAVE. I am here today to ask every one of you, and everyone in this Congress, to stand with me to end gun violence and protect the lives of all Americans. We are facing a crisis that is killing more Americans than war.

Adams assessment that far too many Americans die in gun violence each year is correct. According to the Pew Research Center, 45,222 people died from what it termed “gun-related injuries”, more than half suicides, in 2020 (the last year for which statistics are available).

That same year, however, 91,799 Americans died of drug overdoses, according to the CDC, a figure that exceeded 100,000 in the 12 months ending April 2021. Three-quarters of those most-recent deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl, the majority of which is smuggled over the Southwest border.

Abbott argues that “the open-border polices” Adams “supports and Biden imposed funnel billions of dollars to the drug cartels that profit off of everyone crossing the border illegally”, a point my colleague Todd Bensman and I have made repeatedly, but one often overlooked in the border debate.

It’s also a point that ties together Abbott’s fundamental premise.

America as a nation of laws needs to start enforcing them, especially the immigration and border ones. Contrary to the administration’s beliefs, those laws aren’t inherently “inequitable”, but were written to protect municipal coffers, bolster the wages and working conditions of Americans (both citizens and lawful immigrants), and to keep dangerous narcotics and criminals off our streets.

To quote Eric Adams, “If we want to remain the land of the FREE, then we must be BRAVE.” That starts in whatever office in the federal government they’re crafting the president’s disastrous immigration and border policies.