Dozens of migrants continue to arrive in Washington D.C. and New York City by bus, being shipped from Texas by Gov. Greg Abbott as a protest to what he has called President Joe Biden’s “irresponsible open border policies.”
Visibly exhausted, dozens of migrants — adults, children, babies — waited for help at a bus station in midtown Manhattan after the three-day, hundreds-of-miles-long trip.
Most of them are from Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Haiti or West Africa.
Pedro Gutierrez is one of the thousands. He arrived in Manhattan last week. He says it took him almost two months to make it to the U.S.-Mexico border after he left Venezuela. He described crossing a jungle where he feared for his life, witnessing death, abuse and robberies to migrants.
Gutierrez planned for Miami, Florida to be his destination, but authorities in Texas told him he was going to get the help in New York to travel to south Florida.
A week later, however, he’s still in New York.
Manuel Castro, commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, says the mayor is concerned about the treatment migrants are receiving on these long trips.
"Gov. Abbott is weaponizing the situation, and he’s using human beings to make a political statement," Castro said. "We were learning that there’s armed security on these buses. Apparently, the state of Texas has hired a private security firm. People need to be treated with dignity, with humanity."
Castro says the Texas governor’s move is meant to keep migrants from hopping off the buses before they arrive in New York.
The New York City mayor accuses the Texas authorities of forcing migrants into the "Big Apple" when in some cases their final destination is another state.
"They’re asked to sign these documents under duress that say that they want to come to New York and that they waive certain rights, and people don’t know exactly what they’re signing off," Castro said.
In Texas, the governor’s office says the migrants are traveling to New York voluntarily. However, Gov. Abbott also recently announced he was busing migrants from the Mexican border to New York City in what he calls a response to the Biden administration’s open border policies overwhelming Texas communities. The migrants are receiving food, clothing, medical care and legal assistance.
"It’s very devastating to see small kids making long journeys to the border and then from the border to be bused this way, very troubling," said Alexander Rapaport, executive director of Masbia Relief Team. "Some people came without any shoes, just barefoot."
The migrants released from federal custody after they crossed the border were able to avoid deportation — for now. They are given paperwork allowing them to remain in the U.S. and ordering them to appear before a judge to make their case for asylum.
Castro told Newsy they have assembled a group of immigration lawyers ready to assist the migrants.
Some of them have upcoming court appearances in other states and were brought to New York City instead, so if they decide they want to remain in the state, they have to change their court dates. But for those who will continue their journey, local organizations are offering financial support to purchase their travel tickets.