Arizona has started its own busing campaign to deliver newly arrived illegal immigrants straight to Washington, following in the footsteps of Texas, which pioneered the policy last month.
Gov. Doug Ducey announced the move as part of a broader border security crackdown that includes deploying more National Guard troops and working with ranchers and other landowners to try to secure their property from the onslaught of migrants.
Mr. Ducey’s office confirmed to local news outlets that the first bus arrived Wednesday, carrying 20 people.
The governor said he turned to busing because Arizona’s communities are overwhelmed by the number of illegal immigrants being caught and released, and they aren’t getting much help from the feds.
Migrants who are being shipped to Washington volunteered for the trip, meaning it’s likely they were already headed to the East Coast anyway. Mr. Ducey’s office said they will be fed and will have access to “support” services while on the road.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pioneered the busing strategy, with the first shipment of illegal immigrants from his state reaching Washington a month ago.
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Texas has averaged more than a bus a day, with 32 loads so far, totaling 835 migrants, according to the governor’s office. All of the migrants volunteered to come. They are being dropped off near the U.S. Capitol.
The federal government has sent mixed signals on busing operations.
The White House initially mocked Mr. Abbott, saying he was helping migrants reach their final destinations and at Texas taxpayers’ expense.
But Homeland Security officials said the busing operation was interfering with its efforts to keep track of the migrants.
“As individuals await the outcome of their immigration proceedings, they are legally obligated to report in for the next steps in their immigration process and permitted to travel elsewhere. CBP’s close partnerships with other government and non-governmental stakeholders are essential to this effort, and to ensuring fairness, order, and humanity in the process,” Chris Magnus, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said last month.
The Border Patrol’s Tucson and Yuma sectors, which cover all of Arizona and a sliver of eastern California, tallied nearly 57,000 illegal entry attempts in March, the latest month for which data has been released. That’s the highest rate in years.
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Less than half of those caught were turned back under the Title 42 pandemic border shutdown. Given rates of recidivism and “gotaways” — those who made it in while avoiding capture — it means a majority of illegal crossers were successful.
Communities have been so overwhelmed that one city mayor took to piling illegal immigrants into his vehicle and driving them to the airport in Phoenix so they could disperse throughout the country.