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Texas says it spent over $12 million to bus migrants to sanctuary cities

Shelby Tauber/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

(AUSTIN, Texas) — Texas has spent over $12 million as of mid-August in busing migrants to New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, a spokesperson for the Texas Division of Emergency Management told ABC News.

The state agency utilizes a contract to charter the buses, which include private security, the spokesperson said.

Abbott has sparred with the Democratic mayors of the three cities, who have accused him of using immigrants as pawns in his political agenda. The governor began the busing program after the Biden administration overturned a pandemic-era order restricting migrant entry numbers to the U.S.

Chicago became the latest city to unknowingly receive migrants as of last Wednesday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for unity in the situation and slammed the busings as “inhumane” and “not the Christianity and the teachings of the Bible that I know.”

“My frustration comes from the actions of the governor of Texas,” Lightfoot said at a press conference held Sunday following the arrival of another bus of migrants. “There could be a level of coordination and cooperation but he chooses to do none of those things and instead tries to send human beings…not cargo, not freight, but human beings across the country,” she added.

A spokesperson for Abbott said Chicago has received over 150 migrants on 3 buses so far from Texas. Abbott has no plans to stop anytime soon, the spokesperson said, calling on Mayor Lightfoot to take it up with President Joe Biden.

“Attacking the Governor’s commitment to his faith is a pathetic political ploy to change the conversation away from Mayor Lightfoot’s unwillingness to uphold her city’s self-declared sanctuary status,” Abbott’s press secretary Renae Eze said in a statement provided to ABC News. “Where was Mayor Lightfoot’s outrage and condemnation of President Biden as he flew plane loads of migrants across the country and dropped them in communities in the cover of night?”

The statement added, “Instead of lowly personal attacks on the Governor and complaining about a few dozen migrants being bused into her sanctuary city, Mayor Lightfoot should call on President Biden to take immediate action to secure the border—something the President continues failing to do.”

A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

Then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki in April told reporters the migrants on the buses are processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and “are free to travel.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams called Abbott’s actions “the worst type of politics” in an interview with “Nightline” last month.

“It’s hateful politics to raise his national profile and, you know what, you should not be doing it by taking away the respect and dignity of people who are in need,” Adams said.

Abbott responded by calling Adams a “hypocrite” because “New York City is a self-declared ‘sanctuary city.'”

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser was denied a request last month from the Pentagon for help from the National Guard in dealing with the crisis.

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