Merry Christmas, Kamala – buses from Texas drop off migrants at VP Harris’ residence

Two buses transporting migrants from Texas arrive at Union Station in Washington, D.C., on April 21. In the state’s latest instance of sending migrants to cities led by Democrats, more than 100 people arrived at Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence on Christmas Eve. Credit: Shuran Huang for The Texas Tribun

More than 100 migrants bused from Texas arrived at Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington, D.C., on Christmas Eve — enduring freezing temperatures in the state’s latest instance of sending migrants to cities led by Democrats.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that volunteers who greeted the migrants received word that Gov. Greg Abbott had sent about 110 to 130 men, women and children on three buses that arrived at the Naval Observatory on Saturday night. Videos shared on social media show many of them clutching blankets over their shoulders in the 18-degree weather after the two-day trip.

Abbott, a Republican, began sending migrants who arrived at the Texas-Mexico border to other cities in April as a way to antagonize the Biden administration. When the first bus sent to Harris’ residence arrived in September, Abbott went on NBC’s “Meet the Press” saying, “She’s the border czar, and we felt that if she won’t come down to see the border, if President [Joe] Biden will not come down and see the border, we will make sure they see it firsthand.”

The cities also include Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, and their Democratic leaders have largely seen the program as a political stunt that uses people as pawns. By the end of August, the state had already paid nearly $13 million sending busloads of migrants out of Texas.

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The governor’s office has not confirmed he sent the latest buses and did not respond to a request for comment Sunday afternoon. But in a statement last month, Abbott said the “busing strategy has successfully provided much-needed relief to our border communities.”

In a statement to The Washington Post, the White House condemned the action and said Abbott did not coordinate with federal or local authorities before the migrants were dropped off in the cold.

Aid groups and officials in El Paso and other Texas cities have struggled to keep up with the number of incoming migrants amid uncertainty over whether Title 42 will continue. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that the pandemic-era health policy, which allows the federal government to rapidly remove migrants, including those seeking asylum, can continue as the legal battle over ending the program is still underway.

In a letter to Biden on Tuesday, Abbott said the state is ill-equipped to house thousands of migrants who are coming into the country. Abbott also acknowledged the cold temperatures in Texas.

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“Your policies will leave many people in the bitter, dangerous cold as the polar vortex moves into Texas,” Abbott wrote. The letter does not mention plans to send more buses of migrants to Harris’ home.

El Paso declared a state of emergency last week in response to freezing temperatures and shelters being unable to house all of the migrants. On Friday night, the City Council extended that declaration for 30 days.

On Christmas morning, members of the Texas National Guard constructed a barbed-wire fence at the El Paso border. In a tweet, Abbott said he was grateful to them for serving on Christmas Day.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.