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Pictured: A bus from Texas carrying migrants from south and central America.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott plays political chess and gambles the lives of asylum seekers at the border. Photo by Carlos Nogueras / AL DÍA News

Four buses carrying migrants have been sent to Philadelphia, to date

Philadelphia, a sanctuary city, is Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s latest target as part of Operation Lone Star.

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Philadelphia welcomed two migrant-carrying buses last week, four in all, as Texas Governor Greg Abbott executes Operation Lone Star, a migrant diversion strategy that reroutes asylum seekers to sanctuary cities. 

The first bus arrived in a frigid mid-November, and it was Abbott’s warning shot.

It carried roughly 28 migrants, many of whom vacated the city quickly, while others were transported to a migrant intake shelter organized between city officials and advocates in a collaborative effort. 

Among the passengers was a 10-year-old child who needed immediate medical attention and was transported to the hospital shortly after the bus’s arriva l early in the morning. 

Since then, Abbott has continued to send buses, some arriving early morning last Friday that carried 72 passengers on them. All buses, thus far, have arrived at 30th Street Station, a busy transit route for long commutes. 

Philadelphia is Abbott’s latest target following a string of diversions in major cities — including New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Delaware, and Martha’s Vineyard.

In other sanctuary cities, migrants have been diverted in the thousands, and a similar scenario is likely to pan out for Philadelphia should Abbott continue to follow through on his operation, as he has done in neighboring states. 

“We were ready. What’s important about this is that we were ready,” Emilio Buitrago, co-founder of Casa de Venezuela, a nonprofit organization providing a series of bilingual services to Philadelphia’s Hispanic population, told AL DÍA when the first bus arrived. 

“It was only logical that Philadelphia, being a sanctuary city, was going to be a destination for these migrants who are looking for an opportunity in this country,” Buitrago added. 

City officials prepared a space at 600 Luzerne St to immediately transport incoming migrants to provide preliminary services, including legal aid, though most migrants are looking to travel out of Philadelphia, according to local reporting

Following the arrival of the first migrant bus, the city convened a presser to address the response, which Amy Eusebio, Executive Director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, called “a testament to a strong public-private partnership for welcoming and setting an example for what it could look like.”

Asked whether the Mayor is concerned about the influx and if the city’s capacity is equipped to receive a large volume of buses, Jim Kenney said, “we’ll get it done.” 

Kenney did not directly address if the infrastructure was poised to be overwhelmed but is expecting additional buses. 

Councilwoman at-Large Helen Gym, who was at the scene for the first bus, told AL DÍA “the city will be ready either way.”

“Our city is meeting this moment with humanity, and skill, and professionalism, and actual services,” she continued. 

With the help of 15 nonprofits, the city has successfully and comfortably welcomed Abbott’s redirected buses, although city officials have not been able to speak to the cost of processing the migrants, an operation that starts with leveraging SEPTA buses to transport them into intake facilities. 

Abbott has refused to cooperate with Democratic cities and has largely exploited asylum seekers to get the administration’s attention to address border security, while refusing to cooperate with targeted destinations. 

In Congress, the subject of immigration remains in limbo, and the question of whether the current House, which has a Democrat majority, will achieve any consensus on immigration before the new Congress remains unanswered. 

Some Senators have hinted at a possible resolution during the lame-duck session, but nothing is certain, and there is an increasing sense of insecurity around the viability of current protections, established by former president Barack Obama being battled out in the courts. 

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