The State of Texas spent over $12 million transport migrants by bus in Washington, DC and New York who entered the state from Mexico, according to figures from the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
A state government spreadsheet obtained by CNN through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that as of August 9, Texas had paid $12,707,720.92 to Wynne Transportation, the charter service that takes migrants to both cities.
Republican Governor Greg Abbottsaid migrants are only transported out of state with their written permission. It is unclear what other options were offered to migrants.
Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN on Tuesday. In a Friday press release, Abbott’s office said “the bus mission is providing much-needed relief to our overstretched border communities.”
It is generally the responsibility of released migrants to cover the costs of their journey through the United States, as their asylum claims are pending in court. However, state-chartered border buses have been offering free rides to asylum seekers heading north for months.
Texas solicited private donations to help pay for the cost of bus rides, but the state had only received $167,828 as of August 17. At a press conference in April announcing the program, Abbott acknowledged that taxpayers would likely end up with part of the bill.
“Because (President) Joe Biden is not securing the border, the state of Texas needs to step in and spend Texas taxpayers’ money to do the job of the federal government,” the governor said at the time.
State agencies have provided conflicting figures on the exact number of migrants Texas has driven out of the state, ranging from 8,051 to 9,033. That amounts to a transportation cost of at least $1,400 per migrant. .
New York City officials are arranging a meeting with U.S. Customs and Border Protection amid the continued arrival of migrant buses from Texas, according to a source familiar with the talks. It is unclear when and where the officials plan to meet.
A fierce critic of Biden’s immigration policies, Abbott began sending hundreds of voluntary migrants on buses to Washington, DC, earlier this year as an affront to the administration. Abbott’s office said that “to board a bus or flight, a migrant must volunteer to be transported and show DHS documentation.”
But Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN last week that Abbott’s efforts are throwing the federal immigrant processing system out of whack and criticized the governor for not coordinating with federal authorities. Mayorkas said it was “problematic” when an official like Abbott worked “unilaterally”.
“This lack of coordination causes problems in our highly effective treatment,” he said.
Arizona has also spent millions ferrying migrants out of state, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s office told CNN.
Since May, 43 buses have left from Arizona to DC carrying 1,574 migrants who come mainly from Colombia, Peru and Venezuela. The cost of each bus is about $83,000, bringing the total to date to about $3.5 million, according to the governor’s office, which said about two to three buses depart from the Arizona per week, depending on demand.
Typically, once migrants are processed by federal authorities and released, they are allowed to move around the country while they go through the immigration court process. They are often released in Texas and other border states and then continue their journey to other parts of the country.
This story has been updated with additional reports.