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The scene of a busload of migrants arriving in New York City could be a reality in Philly as early as Monday. Photo: Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress

Philadelphia prepares for first migrant bus from Texas, expected Monday

The city looks to be the fourth major northern city to be a target of Governor Greg Abbott’s campaign.

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Ever since Texas Governor Greg Abbott began his campaign of busing migrants to northern, Democratic-controlled cities in the Summer, Philadelphia has prepared to be one of the targets of what is known as Operation Lone Star — costing at least $12.5 million to taxpayers in the Lone Star state.

So far, Washington D.C., New York City and Chicago have been the target destinations for busloads of migrants from the Texas border — taking in approximately 11,000 in all per estimates made in September.

Now, on Friday night, Nov. 11, the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office announced that it had learned of a new busload of approximately 50 migrants destined for the City of Brotherly Love supposed to depart from Del Rio, Texas on Saturday, Nov. 12. 

The expected arrival time for the bus is Monday, Nov. 14. There is still no information about where the bus will arrive in the city, but officials said they would update as more information is learned.

In an official statement released by the city in response to the situation, knowledge of the new busload of migrants destined for Philly was learned by a community partner, which then passed the information on to the city.

Much like previous cities that were targets of Abbott’s campaign, Philadelphia is also striking a defiant, welcoming tone for the incoming migrants.

"City agencies, OEM mass care partners, immigrant leaders and immigrant-serving nonprofits stand ready to welcome, assist, and provide support to these individuals and their families if and when the bus arrives. We are a proud welcoming city and strongly believe that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Our diversity is our strength," part of the city statement read.

Abbott’s Operation Lone Star was first implemented as a Texas state policy back in April, and is in response to what Republican leaders (like Abbott), have called a “crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border. These days, the migrants predominantly come from Venezuela, Cuba and Haiti, but there have also been busloads of migrants from Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Abbott and the larger GOP blame President Joe Biden’s immigration policies for the crisis they claim.

On that front, immigration reform has been a black eye to the progress of Biden’s agenda since coming into office, with DACA hanging on by a single thread and immigrant detention still a thing, but Republicans have seized on the growing influx of migrants from south of the border as a flash point.

Despite making that argument front and center in many campaigns during the 2022 midterm election cycle — especially in border districts in Texas — Democrats largely held firm against Republican challenges propped up by massive investment from the party. In Abbott’s race specifically, which he won handily against Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger’s only bastion of support was along the southern border of the state.

Beyond Abbott, buses were sent early on in the campaign by Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has chipped in his own migrant trafficking operation by chartering flights from Texas to places like Martha’s Vineyard, Delaware and Illinois.

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