Robert Moran - Philly Inquirer
More than 630 people have been sent by bus from Texas to Philadelphia since Nov. 16, the city said.
Another bus carrying immigrants from Texas arrived in Philadelphia on Thursday, making a total of 15 busloads and more than 630 people sent to the city since Nov. 16, officials said.
An estimated 60 people were dropped off at 30th Street Station, and at least 43 of them were transported to the city’s welcoming center in North Philadelphia, officials said.
The immigrants on Thursday did not have to endure the subfreezing temperatures that about 100 people faced on Saturday when they arrived on two buses from Texas.
That day, three buses of recent migrant families sent from Texas were also dropped off near the Washington home of Vice President Kamala Harris, prompting outrage from critics of the busing tactic for making the immigrants — some dressed in T-shirts — suffer record-setting cold at their destination on Christmas Eve.
The latest bus arrival in Philadelphia came two days after the U.S. Supreme Court decided to keep pandemic-era limits on asylum in place for now. The Trump-era policy was scheduled to expire on Dec. 21, and thousands of people had been massing south of the border in anticipation of the limit being lifted.
Also on Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared on social media that his state had bused more than 15,900 immigrants to Washington, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
“We’re providing relief to local communities overwhelmed by President Biden’s open border policies,” Abbott wrote on Twitter.
Mayor Jim Kenney offered no public statement Thursday on the latest bus arrival, but he has previously condemned Abbott and his administration for “cruel and racist policies using immigrant families — including children — as pawns to shamelessly push their warped political agenda.”
City officials said the bus on Thursday contained people from Colombia, Cuba, Panama, Peru, Nicaragua, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. The immigrants were greeted by various city workers and representative from nonprofits offering services such as emergency health screenings, language translation, and food and water, officials said.
The immigrants who are not transported to the welcoming center are picked up by family and friends or continue their travel to surrounding states, a city spokesperson said.
While Kenney has decried the uncoordinated and unannounced use of buses from Texas,
Philadelphia has embraced its role as a sanctuary city. At one point in 2019, more undocumented families had taken refuge in sanctuary churches in Philadelphia than in any city in the country.
The Kenney administration won a lawsuit over former President Donald Trump’s effort to make local police enforce federal immigration laws, kicked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement out of a database it believed the agency was using to find undocumented people, and barred city employees from asking residents about their immigration status.