Busing and Flights of Migrants by GOP Governors Mark a New Twist in State Intervention on Immigration

Muzaffar Chishti and Julia Gelatt
Date of Publication: 
September, 2022
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

This report places the busing and flights of migrants to northern cities by the governors of Texas, Florida, and Arizona into a larger historical and social context. The authors begin by pointing out that the complaints of state leaders over immigration policy have traditionally been directed to federal leaders. Now, a new era of inter-state conflict may be beginning. In the past, the movement of migrants crossing the southern border into the interior of the U.S. happened “organically, quietly, and gradually.” Often covering the cost of transportation themselves or with the help of friends and family members already residing in the U.S., they generally headed towards communities where friends or relatives lived. The rides financed by the GOP governors actually brought an unexpected benefit to these migrants: free rides to various locations in the U.S. Very often, migrants were able to get off buses at convenient intermediate stops prior to the bus reaching its final destination. Unfortunately, networks of family and friends already in the U.S.  did not always exist for more recent migrants from Nicaragua or Venezuela, creating a greater burden on border communities and making them more dependent on assistance provided by local governments and community groups at cities of final destination.  Another advantage of the state-financed buses for migrants is that they generally transport them to states where immigration courts have higher approval rates for asylum applications. According to the authors, while “the busing strategy has been rightly criticized by opponents as a political stunt...it is also a reaction to an undeniable on-the-ground reality.”

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Chishti, M., & Gelatt, J. (2022, September). Busing and Flights of Migrants by GOP Governors Mark a New Twist in State Intervention on Immigration. Migration Policy Institute. https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/migrant-asylum-seeker-busing