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New York City sues bus companies that Texas hired to transport migrants

FILE - A migrant looks out the window on a bus on her way north to Nicaragua and hopefully to the Mexico-United States border, in Paso Canoas, Costa Rica, Oct. 16, 2023. Panama and Costa Rica launched a plan to quickly bus thousands of migrants through Panama to the Costa Rican border, as the countries continue to grapple with the increasing number of migrants.
Carlos Gonzalez
/
AP
FILE - A migrant looks out the window on a bus on her way north to Nicaragua and hopefully to the Mexico-United States border, in Paso Canoas, Costa Rica, Oct. 16, 2023. Panama and Costa Rica launched a plan to quickly bus thousands of migrants through Panama to the Costa Rican border, as the countries continue to grapple with the increasing number of migrants.

New York City filed a lawsuit on Thursday against 17 bus and transportation companies that have contracted with Texas to take thousands of migrants to the city as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s immigration policies.

The city is seeking $708 million in damages from the companies, which is how much the city has spent to shelter migrants, according to the lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court.

“New York City has and will always do our part to manage this humanitarian crisis, but we cannot bear the costs of reckless political ploys from the state of Texas alone,” said Mayor Eric Adams. “Gov. Abbott’s continued use of migrants as political pawns is not only chaotic and inhumane but makes clear he puts politics over people. Today’s lawsuit should serve as a warning to all those who break the law in this way.”

In the lawsuit, the city argues that the companies are violating a state law by transporting migrants to New York with the “evil intention of shifting the costs of the care to New York.

“As testament to the ‘bad faith’ and ‘evil intent’ of the Defendants, they are receiving more for their services than it would cost to buy a one-way ticket from Texas to New York City on a regularly-scheduled bus,” the lawsuit says. “According to public reporting based on data obtained under the Texas Public Information Act, the Defendants receive roughly $1,650 per person on chartered buses compared to $291 for a single one-way ticket.”

Since April 2022, Abbott has directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to send migrants to Democratic-led cities that the governor has described as sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants.

As of Dec. 29, Texas has bused more than 82,000 people from Texas border cities to Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles, according to the governor’s office. Since August 2022, Texas has bused 33,600 migrants to New York.

In December, Abbott ordered that 120 people be flown to Chicago, the first time Texas has used a plane to transport migrants.

The migrants who are sent to other cities are apprehended and background checked by immigration officials at the Texas-Mexico border before they are released. The bus trips are voluntary and require migrants to sign a consent waiver, according to the governor’s office.

Abbott called the lawsuit "baseless" and said Adams doesn't know anything about the U.S. Constitution.

"Every migrant bused or flown to New York City did so voluntarily, after having been authorized by the Biden Administration to remain in the United States," Abbott said in a statement. "As such, they have constitutional authority to travel across the country that Mayor Adams is interfering with. If the Mayor persists in this lawsuit, he may be held legally accountable for his violations."

The lawsuit names the following companies as defendants: Buckeye Coach, Carduan Tours, Classic Elegance Coaches, Coastal Crew Change Company, Ejecutivo Enterprises, El Paso United Charters, Garcia and Garcia Enterprises, JY Charter Bus, Lily's Bus Lines, Mayo Tours, Norteno Express, Roadrunner Charters, Southwest Crew Change Company, Transportes Regiomontanos, VLP Charter, Windstar Lines and Wynne Transportation.

A person who picked up the phone at El Paso-based Classic Elegance Coaches said the company has no comment. An employee at Lily’s Bus Lines, based in Houston, said there was no one available to make a comment.

Copyright 2024 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Uriel J. García | The Texas Tribune