With buses and planes, GOP governors put border crisis in spotlight

Home » With buses and planes, GOP governors put border crisis in spotlight
With buses and planes, GOP governors put border crisis in spotlight


Since the spring, the Republican governors of Texas and Arizona have been sending busloads of migrants north to Washington, New York, and Chicago. Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis upped the ante by sending two chartered flights unannounced to Martha’s Vineyard, a vacation haunt of former President Barack Obama and other wealthy liberals.

The governors’ campaign has supercharged the national debate over how to handle a migration crisis on the southwestern border, where the largest influx in decades is overwhelming law enforcement resources and further clogging an immigration and asylum processing system that was never designed to handle such numbers.

Why We Wrote This

Both sides agree the current system isn’t equipped to handle such a huge influx of migrants. But after decades of partisan finger-pointing, agreeing on solutions remains a significant challenge.

For years, Republicans and Democrats have failed to make the hard compromises necessary to achieve comprehensive immigration reform, while accusing each other of exploiting the issue for political gain. And although the upcoming elections may only intensify that dynamic, some experts remain hopeful that an increasingly frustrated public will pressure leaders to quit the blame game and work together toward solutions.

“Don’t keep coming and telling me how upset I need to be at the other guy about it,” says Theresa Cardinal Brown, a former adviser with Customs and Border Protection who now works for the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. “Why don’t you fix it?”

The breaking point for Ricardo, a police officer in Venezuela, came when he refused to carry out orders targeting anti-government protesters – and found himself being targeted instead.

“I was a victim of harassment and persecution from other officials,” he says, adding that his unwillingness to engage in what he viewed as “crimes against humanity” put him and his family in danger.  

So in July, he set out on foot with three of his cousins for the United States. The monthlong journey took him through the perilous Darién Gap in Colombia, where he says he witnessed terrible assaults. In Mexico, he says, the police robbed him. 

Why We Wrote This

Both sides agree the current system isn’t equipped to handle such a huge influx of migrants. But after decades of partisan finger-pointing, agreeing on solutions remains a significant challenge.

When he reached the Texas border, he was quickly processed – and then put on a bus to Washington, D.C., by officials he says were wearing beige uniforms with the Texas flag on the shoulder. Like thousands of other migrants in recent months, Ricardo was dropped off at Union Station without money or belongings. And while he was quickly helped by a local aid organization – and is happy with his new surroundings – he realizes he is a pawn in Republican efforts to pressure the Biden administration. 

“From what I’ve heard, it’s like a war being waged by the governor of Texas” with migrants as collateral, he says. It seems like the Texas authorities have decided, “‘we’re going to throw these people over there so they can figure it out,’” adds Ricardo, who is identified by his first name only because he is working illegally.

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