Nearly 1,200 Migrants Have Arrived in Chicago From Texas Since First Drop-Off

Since the first bus arrived in Chicago on Aug. 31, 1,174 asylum-seeking migrants have been welcomed in Chicago

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It's been nearly a month since the first bus of asylum-seeking migrants arrived in Chicago from Texas as part of Gov. Greg Abbott's "Operation Lone Star," which has also sent migrants to New York City and Washington, D.C.

Abbott's controversial policy inspired a fellow executive official, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, to send asylum-seeking migrants who had arrived in Florida to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, known as a summer vacation hotspot, via plane.

As of Sept. 24, Chicago has accepted 1,177 asylum-seekers who have arrived from Texas on buses sent by Abbott since the first bus arrived in the city on Aug. 31.

Last week, Democratic Illinois Senator and Majority Whip Dick Durbin slammed Texas and Florida Governors Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis for the way they've handled the crisis.

'It's pathetic that these governors are taking advantage of these helpless people and making promises to them to get on that bus, and life is just going to be fine," Durbin said on NBC's Meet The Press.

"And off they go to places far removed from where they're supposed to be appearing under the requirements of our law," Durbin continued. "It's always the kids that end up being the victims."

According to city officials, many children and infants are among those seeking refuge in the United States, many of whom traveled through several countries en route to Texas.

"Illinois is a welcoming state. We are committed to assisting each family and individual, providing human services with respect and dignity. We expect more arrivals to be welcomed and the City will continue to provide daily updates on those arrivals," city spokesperson Joseph Dutra said.

Dutra added that upon arrival, migrants are provided immediate shelter and support with in-depth case management and connections to city and community-based services and agencies.

After the first group of migrants arrived in Chicago last month, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her administration was aware of the plan, and that the city was working to find shelter and other services for individuals bused in.

"We understand that many are fleeing violent, traumatic, or otherwise unstable environments," Lightfoot said in a statement continued. "We will respond with essential services while these individuals navigate the next steps of their journey and our community partners have been working diligently to provide a safety net."

Here's a breakdown of what we know about the policy, and how Chicago is involved and more.

What is the Policy and When Did It Start?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began the "drop-off" policy in April of this year, when he sent a bus of asylum-seekers to Washington, D.C. in protest of President Joe Biden's immigration policy.

The operation stemmed from Abbott’s criticism of the Biden administration’s attempts to lift a Title 42 order that had allowed the U.S. to deny asylum-seekers entry into the country during the COVID pandemic.

According to CNN, the program has cost Texas approximately $12.7 million. Abbott’s office says that the asylum-seekers are only transported after giving written permission, but the network says it is “unclear” what options are presented to those individuals.

Where Have the Buses Been Sent?

In addition to the buses sent to Washington, D.C. in the spring, Abbott later sent buses of migrants to New York City in early August and sent the first bus to Chicago on Aug. 31.

“President Biden’s inaction at our southern border continues putting the lives of Texans – and Americans – at risk and is overwhelming our communities,” Abbott said in a statement at the time.

Abbott chose the destinations due to their status as "sanctuary cities," which include policies that prohibit officials from asking residents about their immigration status while also refraining from disclosing information to federal authorities.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has sent asylum-seeking migrants to Martha's Vineyard, an island south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, marking the fourth location asylum-seeking migrants arriving in the US have been sent to.

Under Chicago’s “Welcoming City Ordinance,” officials will not ask about immigration status, nor will it disclose that information to federal authorities. Services will not be denied based on immigration status, according to a document published by the city.

Where Else Could the Buses be Sent?

Abbott's policy has targeted three northern, Democratic-led "sanctuary cities" thus far, though several other large, Democratic-led cities have enacted similar policies.

Large American cities such as Boston, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle have implemented similar policies in regards to immigration and are all led by Democratic mayors, making them potential destinations for asylum-seeking migrants under Abbott's policy.

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