Busing migrants from the border is a blessing, not a punishment

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Over the past five months, hundreds of charter buses from Texas and Arizona have transported thousands of undocumented migrants to Washington, DC, New York and Chicago. Republican governors of border states sent the buses in a bid to subject northern Democrats to the chaos and costs associated with the country’s immigration crisis. As illegal border crossings hit an all-time high, Governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona say they are ‘overwhelmed by hordes of illegal immigrants’ and insist the bus operation is their response to “President Biden’s inaction on our southern border.” .”

Meanwhile, from officials in destination cities, there has been a torrent of condemnations. New York Mayor Eric Adams called governors “cowards” for firing people “who are looking for help.” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot denounced Abbott as “racist and xenophobic”. US Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, called the policy “cruel and inhumane”.

It all added to the spectacle of politicians at their worst: As congressional lawmakers refuse to address the root cause of border chaos — the lack of more options to immigrate legally — state officials and the city are busy trying to score points at the expense of the unfortunate asylum seekers.

At least that’s what I thought until I read Jasmine Aguilera’s review in Time magazine, which reported on the migrant bus from the perspective of the migrants themselves.

Far from viewing their state-organized trip as “cruel and inhumane”, Aguilera found, those she spoke to considered it a fluke. She interviewed 15 migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia and Honduras before they boarded one of the buses in Del Rio, Texas, and after they arrived in Washington two days later. They told him “they were delighted with the free transportation option and were surprised to learn that Abbott’s intentions were less to accommodate them than to embarrass his political opponents”.

While Texas and Arizona were counting on northbound buses to “induce the federal government to toughen immigration policy, they have so far been unsuccessful,” Aguilera wrote. “But in the process, they provided a service to thousands of migrants seeking homes in the United States.”

She found the same reaction when she spoke with another group of migrants on a bus from Yuma, Arizona. Among them was a family of five from Peru, who left their homeland in July after the mother, Jennifer, was threatened by violent gang members. . They headed to America hoping to connect with relatives in Boston. After their frightening ordeal in Peru, Jennifer told Time, “a safe, free bus that would bring her family together [to] Boston was a “blessing”.

Other journalists have come to similar conclusions. The Washington Post noted that “those boarding the buses appear to be doing so of their own free will, with no sign that anyone…is being coerced or tricked,” and reported that “for many of those who accepted the rides …the buses have turned into a welcome pipeline.” The Dallas Morning News quoted a grateful migrant who took the bus to Washington. “I consider this to be real humanitarian aid,” said Víctor Rodríguez to a journalist: “My life begins now.”

The best solution to the illegal immigration crisis is to make legal immigration much easier. But in the meantime, the stunt of the governors of Texas and Arizona, however cynically intended, turns out to be an excellent idea. Government agencies, working with humanitarian organizations, should be encouraged to help migrants leave overcrowded border towns. It is in everyone’s interest to facilitate the dispersal of newcomers to communities nationwide, whether to connect with relatives or friends already in the country or to relocate to cities where the market labor is tight and jobs plentiful.

More than two centuries of experience have shown that where immigrants put down roots, America thrives. As Rupert Murdoch once said, Silicon Valley is misnamed – “it’s not the silicon” that made it such an economic powerhouse, “it’s the immigrants.” Foreigners are far more likely than native Americans to start businesses and create jobs, stabilize declining populations, and revitalize stagnant neighborhoods. Foreign-born people come to this country chasing an American dream. It is in the US national interest to help them get started.

Abbott and Ducey may have thought they were taking a quick shot. But they outdid themselves. Enabling migrants to reach new destinations as quickly as possible is the best thing we can do for them and for us. Run the buses and bring in the new Americans.

Jeff Jacoby can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jeff_jacoby. To subscribe to Arguable, its weekly newsletter, go to bitly.com/Arguable.

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