USA: Texas Governor’s controversial migrant busing amidst storm Hilary criticized by Los Angeles Mayor

Written by Dr. Florence Akano

LA Mayor slams Texas Governor for sending migrants even during storm Hilary which he says is endangering vulnerable lives. Controversial “Operation Lone Star” faces backlash as heavy rainfall drenches Southern California.

As Tropical Storm Hilary unleashed heavy rainfall and flooding across Southern California, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass issued scathing criticism of Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday night for dispatching buses filled with migrants to the city. The move drew outrage as the city was grappling with the storm’s impact.

Departing from Brownsville, Texas on Sunday, a bus arrived at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles on Monday evening, carrying 37 migrants, including 16 families comprising 14 children and an infant, as reported by the immigrant rights group, the L.A. Welcomes Collective. This manoeuvre by Texas authorities drew sharp condemnation from Mayor Bass.

“It is evil to endanger the lives of vulnerable migrants by sending a bus with families and toddlers on board to a city that at the time was under an unprecedented tropical storm warning,” Mayor Bass asserted in an official statement. She continued, “As I stood with state and local leaders warning Angelenos to stay safe and brace themselves for the worst of the coming storm, the Governor of Texas sent families and toddlers straight for us on a path through extreme weather conditions.”

Mayor Bass and her team were alerted to the situation as the city’s emergency operations centre was elevated to a higher level of activity due to the intensifying storm. With the storm’s onset on Sunday, Southern California witnessed heavy rainfall and the risk of widespread flooding, prompting numerous local officials to declare states of emergency.

“Governor of Texas, who annually contends with the menace of hurricanes and thunderstorms, should understand these perils better than most,” Mayor Bass added. “This is a despicable act beyond politics.”

The L.A. Welcomes Collective, a group advocating for immigrant rights, expressed their disheartenment over the situation. Monday’s arrival marked the ninth such migrant bus to reach Los Angeles. Governor Abbott’s decision to send migrants to the city was based on its “self-declared sanctuary city status,” a point he justified in a press release issued in June.

Governor Abbott’s press secretary, Andrew Mahaleris, told news reporters that the migrants had willingly chosen to travel to Los Angeles, having consented to their destination upon boarding the bus. Mahaleris stated, “And they were processed and released by the federal government, who are dumping them at historic levels in Texas border towns because of the Biden-made crisis. Each bus is stocked with food and water and makes stops along the trip to refuel and switch drivers.”

This controversial busing initiative falls under the umbrella of “Operation Lone Star,” launched last year by Governor Abbott in response to President Joe Biden’s border policies. The initiative, designed to alleviate pressure on Texas’ overwhelmed border communities, has garnered significant backlash due to its humanitarian implications.

Since its inception, the initiative has transported over 30,000 migrants to Democratic-led cities across the nation, including Los Angeles, Denver, New York City, Chicago, and even Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington, D.C.

The L.A. Welcomes Collective disclosed that the migrants were received at a designated site in Chinatown, where they were provided with essentials such as food, clothing, hygiene kits, health checkups, and specialized legal orientations related to immigration. Moreover, the group facilitated reunions with family members and sponsors within the region.

Among the 37 migrants, 20 hailed from Venezuela, while others originated from Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and Ecuador.

In response to these events, the L.A. Welcomes Collective issued a statement on Monday expressing their surprise and disappointment over Texas officials greenlighting the bus’s journey to Los Angeles despite the city being declared an emergency zone due to Hurricane Hilary.

Operation Lone Star has stirred significant controversy and criticism. Critics have labelled it a political manoeuvre that exploits migrants while burdening state taxpayers with a cost exceeding $12 million. Tragically, the initiative has also witnessed a 3-year-old child’s death during a bus trip from Texas to Chicago in Illinois.

Governor Abbott has implemented additional measures as part of the initiative, including the placement of water buoys and razor wire along the Rio Grande, the border between Texas and Mexico. However, these measures have faced legal challenges from the Biden administration, which argues that the barriers could lead to environmental and humanitarian issues.

Florence Akano, USA Correspondent

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Dr. Florence Akano

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