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Greg Abbott
Texas governor Greg Abbott speaks during a campaign stop on Feb. 17 in San Antonio.Eric Gay / AP, file

Texas’ Abbott rethinks taxpayer-financed bus trips for migrants

Greg Abbott’s old plan: Provide migrants with free chartered bus trips to Washington, D.C., financed by taxpayers. Greg Abbott’s new plan: Crowdfunding.


Gov. Greg Abbott seemed confident that he had a political winner on his hands. The Texas governor, whose other border-related gambits went poorly, had the bright idea of putting groups of undocumented migrants on buses and transporting them to Washington, D.C., without any coordination with federal officials.

As we’ve discussed, the governor may not have thought this through. In fact, it quickly became obvious that many migrants were quite pleased to discover that the state of Texas was offering free bus trips, financed by American taxpayers. Passengers have even been provided with meals.

One migrant from Nicaragua told The New York Times he didn’t understand why Abbott was providing such a generous benefit, but he was grateful for the taxpayer-financed travel all the same.

It’s against this backdrop that the Texas Republican, in the midst of a re-election campaign, is rethinking his policy. The Texas Tribune reported that Abbott now wants the public to start financing the chartered bus trips voluntarily.

[In early April,] Abbott proudly presented the trips as a tough-on-immigration act of defiance against the Biden administration. But the shift to ask private donors to pay for the charter buses comes as his plan has been increasingly praised as an act of generosity by Democrats, immigration rights groups and even the migrants who rode the buses, while those further to Abbott’s right politically have panned it as a misuse of taxpayer dollars that incentivizes migrants to cross into Texas.

One Texas Republican legislator mockingly wrote this week, “Congratulations to Governor Abbott. Word will be passed from community to community that if you can just get to Texas, the Governor there will pay for your transportation anywhere in the USA.”

The new plan, evidently, is a crowdfunding website, along the lines of Kickstarter or GoFundMe, set up through the governor’s office. Folks can donate to “Border Transportation Funding,” the “Texas Border Wall” project, or both.

As of this afternoon, the bus-trip project has raised nearly $68,000, while the wall initiative has collected over $55,000.

How many chartered bus trips to the nation’s capital will that pay for? Abbott apparently doesn’t want to talk about it: The Texas Tribune report added that the governor hasn’t said whether taxpayer money will continue to go towards the policy, how much the busing program costs, or how many migrants have had their travel costs picked up by Texans.