Sep 14, 2022 - Politics

Massachusetts weighing potential plans for Texas migrant buses

Illustration of a city bus that says "Next Stop."

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Massachusetts officials are already considering what to do if Texas Gov. Greg Abbott decides to bring the border crisis and national culture war to the northeast.

Driving the news: Abbott has been sending buses of detained migrants to so-called sanctuary cities, in a move he says will test their values and force them to grapple with social safety-net issues, Axios Austin's Asher Price reports.

  • Boston, Cambridge and Somerville have sanctuary-style laws, meaning they limit local police from working with federal immigration agents.

What's happening: New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago have already seen busloads of thousands of migrants shipped out of Texas, leading D.C. to declare a public emergency last week.

  • Texas has bused more than 7,600 migrants to D.C. since April, and more than 1,900 to New York since August.

Zoom in: Somerville and Boston city halls say they're in talks with the state, other municipalities, hospitals and nonprofits about what to do should buses arrive in the Boston area.

  • A spokesperson for Gov. Charlie Baker told Axios that the governor's office has not heard any reports of buses heading to Massachusetts.
  • Cambridge officials did not respond to questions about how that city would react if migrants were bused there.

Monique Tú Nguyen, director of the Boston Mayor's Office for Immigrant Advancement, said she has proposed using $1.1 million in the city's ARPA funding to house migrants who have arrived in the past 18 months.

  • She said the money could be used to support migrants who are bused here.

What they're saying: Bostonians would be sure to support migrants if buses did arrive, MIRA Coalition political director Sarang Sekhavat told Axios.

  • "What we would see is a number of organizations would come together and provide some kind of welcoming for them, making sure folks know where they can go, where they can get help."

Sekhavat said one challenge would be "figuring out how we can house people without disrupting all the other Massachusetts residents who are already looking for housing." Sekhavat also suggested that charitable groups would provide basic care packages with toiletries and food for migrants coming to Massachusetts.

Of note: An Abbott spokesperson told Axios Philadelphia’s Mike D'onofrio that Texas is "still only busing to D.C., NYC, and Chicago."

  • But the spokesperson said to "stay tuned" about expansions to the effort.

Axios Local's Asher Price, Melissa Santos, and Justin Kaufmann contributed to this story.


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