THE TEXAS TRIBUNE – Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that Texas is now busing migrants to Denver, the fifth city Abbott has targeted since launching the busing program more than a year ago as a way to force national attention on Texas’ immigration problems.
The state has sent more than 19,000 migrants to the cities, all run by Democrats.
The initiative has sparked an outcry from Democratic lawmakers and immigrant rights advocates, who say Abbott is using vulnerable people as political pawns.
Abbott’s office said the first group of migrants sent to Denver arrived Thursday afternoon near Civic Center Park, which is in downtown Denver near the Colorado Capitol.
"Until the President and his Administration step up and fulfill their constitutional duty to secure the border, the State of Texas will continue busing migrants to self-declared sanctuary cities like Denver to provide much-needed relief to our small border towns,” Abbott said in a statement.
Texas’ busing activity has picked up with the end of Title 42, the public health rule that was used to quickly expel migrants at the border. Abbott sent two buses to Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence last week as the policy was about to end.
Denver has already been struggling to deal with a large increase in migrants. A week ago, Mayor Michael Hancock reactivated the city’s Emergency Operations Center in response. And earlier this month, the city stopped sheltering migrants who had not been processed by immigration authorities.
Over the winter, Colorado briefly bused asylum-seekers to New York City and Chicago.
Denver specifically has long prided itself on being welcoming toward immigrants.
“If being a sanctuary city means that we value taking care of one another, and welcoming refugees and immigrants, then I welcome the title,” Hancock said in 2017.
The Texas migrant-busing program began in April 2022 when Abbott started transporting migrants to Washington, D.C. Abbott later added New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia as drop-off locations.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.