Republican governors have been sending more migrants released at the U.S. border with Mexico to Democratic strongholds, raising questions about their legal status, how they are lured on board buses and planes and the cost to taxpayers.
Florida’s Ron DeSantis flew about 50 Venezuelans last week to the small, upscale island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. During the weekend, Texas’ Greg Abbott bused more migrants to Vice President Kamala Harris’ Washington home.
U.S. authorities are grappling with unusually large numbers of migrants crossing the border from Mexico amid rapidly changing demographics. The administration said Monday that people from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua accounted for more than one of three migrants stopped at the border in August. Authorities stopped migrants 2.15 million times from October through August, the first time above 2 million during the government’s fiscal year.
Since April, Texas has bused about 8,000 migrants to Washington, 2,200 to New York and 300 to Chicago. Arizona bused more than 1,800 to Washington since May, while the city of El Paso, Texas, bused more than 1,100 to New York since Aug. 23.
Here are some questions and answers:
ARE MIGRANTS LEGALLY IN THE UNITED STATES?
Yes, temporarily. Tens of thousands of migrants who cross the border illegally from Mexico are released in the United States each month with notices to appear in immigration court to pursue asylum or on humanitarian parole with requirements to report regularly to immigration authorities. Migrants may seek asylum if they enter the country illegally under U.S. and international law, and U.S. authorities have broad authority to grant parole based on individual circumstances.
Migrants must keep a current address with authorities, who schedule appointments in a city with the nearest court or immigration office. They must apply separately for permission to work.
Last year, it took an average of nearly four years for asylum cases to be decided in immigration court, according to the Biden administration, leaving migrants in a legal purgatory that shields them from deportation. The backlog in immigration courts has mushroomed to more than 1.9 million cases, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.