Migrant-filled buses from Texas arrive in NJ, skirting NYC’s new rules

New York City Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro, center, welcomes migrants arriving at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on Sept. 6 in Midtown Manhattan. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/New York Daily News/TNS)

NEW YORK — After New York City moved last week to slow the pace of migrant-filled charter buses from Southern states, roughly a dozen buses have arrived outside the city in New Jersey since Saturday, according to officials.

The wave of buses west of New York City, which continued Monday morning, appears to represent a response by Republican-led Texas to an executive order implemented by Mayor Eric Adams barring migrant buses from the city except during 210-minute windows on weekday mornings.


Over the weekend, about 10 migrant buses that originated in Texas and one bus that came from Louisiana arrived in New Jersey municipalities including Edison, Fanwood, Secaucus and Trenton, according to the government of Jersey City.

About 400 people arrived on those buses, said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.

“It’s the first time that buses have arrived in New Jersey. The buses are looking to circumvent that rule,” Fulop, a Democrat, said by phone, referring to New York City’s executive order.

The Secaucus Junction Train Station, which is located less than four miles from Midtown Manhattan, has served as a primary drop-off point for the migrant buses. Four buses arrived at the station on Saturday, according to the Town of Secaucus. Two more arrived early Monday, said Town Administrator Gary Jeffas.

Migrants who arrived at the station then traveled to New York City by train, according to Secaucus officials. Mayor Michael Gonnelli said in a statement that it “seems quite clear the bus operators are finding a way to thwart the requirements of the Executive Order by dropping migrants at the train station in Secaucus and having them continue to their final destination.”

The bus arrivals seemed to generally be centered on New Jersey Transit stations. A spokesman for Gov. Phil Murphy, Tyler Jones, said in a statement Monday that “New Jersey is primarily being used as a transit point for these families — all or nearly all of them continued with their travels en route to their final destination of New York City.”

Jones added that New Jersey is coordinating with New York on the arrivals. No migrant buses have arrived at New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal since at least Friday, according to Adams’ office.

Two buses arrived Sunday in Trenton, New Jersey’s capital city, which is located on the Pennsylvania border. Ten travelers waited to be picked up by family when they arrived in Trenton, and the rest of the group emptied out onto trains, said Mayor Reed Gusciora.

He said officials were carefully watching for buses at local train stations.

“Everyone is on the lookout,” Gusciora said in an interview. “It’s going to be a challenge.”

At least one New Jersey town said it would not cooperate with transfers. The Edison Township mayor, Sam Joshi, said he had instructed law enforcement to respond to any arrivals by chartering buses to take the migrants back to the southwestern border.

“I’m not going to pawn this problem off to another mayor,” Joshi, a Democrat, said by phone.

One bus arrived in Edison on Sunday but did not stay long, Joshi said. “I instructed our officers to make clear that they can’t stay,” the mayor said, adding that the arrivals initially appeared unaware that the town’s train station was not open 24/7.

Edison is located about eight miles west of Staten Island.

Texas, strained by a surge in migrant border crossings in recent years, claims to have sent more than 33,000 migrants to New York City since mid-2022. The effort has made Texas one of the drivers of the city’s migrant crisis.

Overall, more than 160,000 migrants have arrived in New York City since spring 2022, according to Adams’ office. Many of the migrants, fleeing poverty and political upheaval in South America, have voluntarily headed to New York, apparently aware that the city has a unique rule promising shelter for anyone who asks for it.

Still, Texas appears to be intensifying its busing effort: the state’s tally of migrants shipped to New York jumped by about 8,000 last month.

Adams, a Democrat, has repeatedly laced into Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, accusing Texas of mistreating the migrants and failing to communicate on its busing efforts with New York. The mayor has described Abbott as an “anti-American governor” and a “global embarrassment.”

Adams’ office said in a statement Monday that the city’s new executive order is intended to ensure the “safety and well-being of both migrants and city staff receiving them.”

“But instead of joining us in treating human beings humanely, Texas Governor Greg Abbott continues to treat asylum seekers like political pawns, and is instead now dropping families off in surrounding cities and states in the cold, dark of night with train tickets to travel to New York City,” said the statement.

Abbott’s office did not not immediately respond to requests for comment on New Jersey-bound migrant buses. The office said last week that it had also sent more than 28,000 migrants to Chicago and more than 12,000 to Washington, D.C., since summer 2022.

Louisiana is led by a Democrat, Gov. John Bel Edwards. His spokesman, Eric Holl, said the Louisiana government was not involved with busing migrants to New Jersey. Holl said in an email that a bus company linked to the transfers is based in Louisiana, but that “the migrants in question came from Texas.”

The New Jersey busing workaround mirrors a similar approach Texas has used in Chicago, where officials have also limited when asylum seeker-filled charter buses can arrive.

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