(PHILADELPHIA) — A second busload of migrants from Texas arrived in Philadelphia this week, despite the city’s plea for coordination with the state amid Gov. Greg Abbott’s ongoing efforts to send asylum-seekers to Democratic-led areas, a city spokesperson said.
A Nov. 17 letter from Philadelphia Emergency Management Director Dominick Mireles to Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd implored the state official tasked with executing Gov. Greg Abbott’s busing of migrants to “uphold a core tenet of our shared profession: collaboration.”
Mireles asked his Texas counterpart to communicate with city officials if he planned to continue busing groups of migrants to the city, the letter obtained by ABC News shows. It appears to have been written a day after a bus traveling from Del Rio, Texas, arrived at a Philadelphia transit station transporting 28 migrants.
“Your bus of asylum seekers that arrived yesterday, November 16, 2022, took the City of Philadelphia and its partners by surprise. As you may have heard, a child required emergency medical care upon arrival,” Mireles wrote.
A spokesperson for the City of Philadelphia told ABC News that Texas officials have not responded to the letter as of Tuesday. A group of 46 migrants were bused to Philadelphia from Texas on Monday, Philadelphia officials said.
TDEM did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Since Abbott began directing his emergency management department to dispatch buses to Democrat-led cities as a way of calling attention to what he calls the Biden administration’s “open-border policies,” officials in Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C., and now Philadelphia, have had to accommodate the sudden increase of asylum seekers entering their shelter system without any formal coordination from Texas.
“The Lone Star State will continue doing more than any state in history to secure our border, including adding more sanctuary cities as drop-off locations for our busing strategy,” Abbott tweeted in announcing the first bus of migrants to Philadelphia.
Highlighting a lack of coordination, Mireles asked Kidd that, “Any bus scheduled for Philadelphia be directed to report to a safe and secure location of our choice, not a street corner that you have identified in a jurisdiction that you have no formalized connection to.”
Abbott has recently also decided to start busing migrants to an area close to the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., the home of Vice President Kamala Harris. His busing efforts have left local non-profit organizations scrambling to find housing and provide resources the migrants need to reach their chosen destination where they need to complete the next steps in the asylum claim process.
Mireles listed 8 demands for TDEM, including that they give a 72-hour notice for any bus arriving in Philadelphia. Mireles also asked Kidd to screen travelers for medical conditions like COVID and RSV and to keep family units together during transportation.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney condemned Abbott’s efforts at press conference last week, calling it a “purposefully cruel policy” of using immigrant families for political gain.
“It is truly disgusting to hear today that Governor Abbott and his Administration continue to implement their purposefully cruel policy using immigrant families—including women and children—as pawns to shamelessly push his warped political agenda,” he said. “Sadly, racism and human cruelty have historically been intertwined in how immigrants are received by and within this country, something the previous presidential administration openly and actively encouraged.”
Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Many of the migrants that have arrived in Philadelphia have been picked up by relatives or have gone on to other cities, but some remain at a welcoming center the city established as a temporary stop before they figure out next steps, the city said. Being just the latest city added to Abbott’s radar, city officials say they’re well positioned to receive migrants who arrive within their city limits.
“Since the summer, the City’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the Office of Emergency Management have been preparing for the potential arrival of migrants via unplanned and uncoordinated bus routes from southern states,” a spokesperson for the City of Philadelphia said in a statement. “The agencies have been meeting and coordinating regularly with nearly 15 local community-based organizations and partners to plan a local response, including preparations for immediate reception and shelter space, emergency health screening, food, water, and more.”
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