Busloads of migrants were dropped off near Vice President Kamala Harris’ Washington home during the frigid conditions on Christmas Eve, the latest in a series of political stunts orchestrated by Republican border state governors. This time, it appears Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is taking responsibility for the exploit.
On the coldest Christmas Eve on record in Washington, D.C., some of the migrants were dropped off outside the vice president’s residence wearing only t-shirts as the temperature hovered around 15 degrees Fahrenheit. SAMU First Response, a humanitarian relief nonprofit working with the city of Washington to help migrants who have been dropped off in recent months, gave out blankets and quickly moved people to a local church.
In a Monday statement, a spokesperson for Gov. Abbott seemingly confirmed his involvement in the stunt.
“These migrants willingly chose to go to Washington, D.C., having signed a voluntary consent waiver available in multiple languages upon boarding that they agreed on the destination,” a spokesperson for the governor, Renae Eze, said in a statement.
Eze also repeatedly criticized the Biden administration’s border policies and added, “Instead of their hypocritical complaints about Texas providing much-needed relief to our overrun and overwhelmed border communities, President Biden and Border Czar Harris need to step up and do their jobs to secure the border — something they continue failing to do.”
This is not the first time Abbott or a Republican governor (Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis) have pulled this type of stunt – rounding up migrants who have arrived at the southern border and dropping them off by the busload, or plane-load, in Democratic-leaning cities and areas, sometimes without the migrants knowing where they’re being dumped. Abbott’s office said last week that Texas has given bus rides to more than 15,000 people since April to cities like Washington, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, according to the Associated Press. It’s all part of a broader stunt on Abbott and DeSantis’s parts – dehumanizing migrants to make some sort of political point about the Biden administration’s border policies.
On Sunday, the White House directly blamed Abbott for the latest drop-off outside Harris’ home, calling the move a “cruel, dangerous, and shameful stunt.”
“Governor Abbott abandoned children on the side of the road in below freezing temperatures on Christmas Eve without coordinating with any Federal or local authorities,” White House spokesperson Abdullah Hasan said in a statement.
“As we have repeatedly said, we are willing to work with anyone – Republican or Democrat alike – on real solutions, like the comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures President Biden sent to Congress on his first day in office, but these political games accomplish nothing and only put lives in danger,” Hasan added.
Democratic lawmakers also took to Twitter to condemn Abbott’s latest stunt, made doubly cruel during the holiday season.
“Jesus was pretty well known for stranding poor children outside in freezing weather as a hilarious joke to make fun of his enemies,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted in response to a video of people outside the buses.
“Worthless @GovAbbott dropping off people with no money and no means on Christmas Eve in 15 degree weather near the VP’s residence,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) wrote. “How Christian of you, Greg Abbott. Being a heartless POS isn’t going to make you the next Republican President.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) extended the blame to Abbott’s fellow party members as well, pointing the finger at Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and the Republican Party.
“I see the Christmas Spirit is with @GOPLeader McCarthy’s party. It’s sad to see them reduce themselves to this,” Swalwell tweeted. “I was raised by Republicans — this kind of chaos and cruelty is new. It’s not a defect, it’s a feature.”