Busload of Migrants Welcomed in Philly After Traveling From Texas

Texas officials have been sending buses with thousands of migrants to so-called sanctuary cities like New York, Washington, Chicago and beyond -- a tactic that escalated earlier this fall

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What to Know

  • A bus carrying about 30 migrants from Texas has arrived in Philadelphia, including a 10-year-old girl suffering from dehydration and a high fever who was whisked to a hospital for treatment.
  • Advocates who welcomed them as they arrived outside Philadelphia's 30th Street Station before dawn Wednesday said they came from Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.
  • Texas officials have been sending buses with thousands of migrants to so-called sanctuary cities like New York, Washington, Chicago and beyond -- a tactic that escalated earlier this fall.

A bus of migrants seeking asylum that departed from Texas arrived at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station on Wednesday morning, including a young girl suffering from dehydration.

The bus pulled up just after 6 a.m. Temps in Philadelphia were in the low 40s when the bus arrived.

Léelo en español aquí.

More than two dozen migrants from Texas arrived in Philadelphia on Wednesday. NBC10's Frances Wang shows us how the city prepared for their arrival and the current status of the migrants.

Advocates greeted people -- 28 in total -- who came off the bus and handed them hygiene kits, blankets, hot coffee, bottles of water and clothing as they stepped off the bus. There were other welcome materials also awaiting the migrants.

"Philadelphia is a proud welcoming city," Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said at a midday news conference. "For those arriving in Philadelphia please know you are welcome here."

Advocates said the families and individuals came from Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

The migrants after arriving were checked out and then 19 of them were ushered onto a SEPTA bus and taken to a welcoming center shelter in North Philadelphia, the city said. As of midday Wednesday, 14 of the migrants remained at the shelter as they awaited to go to their next locations. Only two of the migrants planned to stay in Philly.

A 10-year-old girl on board was dehydrated and required some care, NBC10's Miguel Martinez-Valle reported. She and her parent were taken to a hospital for treatment.

“There's a 10-year-old who's completely dehydrated," Democratic Philadelphia City Council member Helen Gym said. "It's one of the more inhumane aspects that they would put a child who was dehydrated with a fever now, a very high fever (on the bus). It's a terrible situation.”

Dobin Ramon Garmendia Ramirez, a migrant from Nicaragua who got off the bus, told Miguel that he boarded after someone in Texas told him he didn't need to pay to travel. The 23-year-old said he is seeking work.

“In general, people feel relieved. We want them to know that they have a home here,” said Gym, who accompanied several of the migrants onto the second bus taking them to a site where their needs could be assessed.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday that Philadelphia would be the next destination for migrants the state is transporting from the U.S.-Mexico border by the thousands to Democratic-led locales, putting a new bus on the road a week after the Republican easily won reelection.

Texas officials have been sending buses with thousands of migrants to so-called sanctuary cities like New York, Washington, Chicago and beyond -- a tactic that escalated earlier this fall. The Republican governor calls the Texas' overall immigration program "Operation Lone Star."

A spokesperson for Kenney earlier said they had been told last week that about 30 asylum seekers were expected to travel from Del Rio, Texas, to Philadelphia. In the end, 31 passengers were on the bus when it departed, with a handful getting off along the journey.

Advocates who greeted the group, which included 23 adults, said it was not clear how long the 1,800-mile-or-so bus journey took, but one said it would typically take about 40 hours.

“The important thing is they got to Philadelphia, and they were received with open arms,” said Emilio Buitrago of the nonprofit Casa de Venezuela.

“The kids are frightened, they're exhausted, they're tired,” he said. “They're going to go to a place … where they're going to have comfy, warm beds with a blanket, and warm food. From there, we're going to work on relocation.”

Some of the families hope to unite with relatives or friends in other locations, Gym said. City officials later reiterated that people were heading to other parts of Pennsylvania or locations along the East Coast.

Philadelphia and its community partners arranged for medical triage and follow-up for any new arrivals in need of medical care, according to a city spokesperson.

A bus full of migrants seeking asylum has departed from Texas and is scheduled to arrive in Philadelphia on Wednesday. NBC10's Johnny Archer shows us how nonprofits from our area are preparing for their arrival.

City leaders and 12 partner organizations met Saturday to make sure they have a plan in place: a response that would include providing emergency shelter, food and clothing.

The city's Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) and the Mayor's Fund for Philadelphia also launched the Philadelphia Welcoming Fund, allowing the city's residents to contribute to local efforts to welcome immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers arriving in Philadelphia.

“As a proud welcoming city, we will greet our newly arrived neighbors with dignity and respect," Kenney said. "City agencies, Office of Emergency Management (OEM) mass care partners, immigrant leaders, and immigrant-serving nonprofits are working together to welcome, assist, and provide support to these individuals and families."

Multiple nonprofit organizations, including the Nationalities Services Center and HIAS Pennsylvania offered legal services to the migrants.

"Philadelphians know that diversity is our strength, and we want to acknowledge the generosity and compassion we have already seen from residents and community partners since we were alerted to a possible bus arriving in Philadelphia, Kenney said ahead of the arrival. "It is possible for government and local communities to work together to strengthen systems of support for newcomers and that has always been this administration’s vision and commitment."

Steven Larin of the Nationalities Service Center said migrants are eligible to apply for work permits five to six months after arriving in the United States, but his organization is trying to speed up the process so they can become self-sufficient sooner.

Kenney's spokesperson said donated supplies for the migrants can't be accepted.

The list of organizations in the Philadelphia region that offers services for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers include the following:

Casa De Venezuela, Gente De Venezuela, Juntos, New Sanctuary Movement, Aquinas Community Center, PA Immigrant Family Unity Project (PAIFUP), PA Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, Alianza Latina, the Wyss Wellness Center, and Maria de los Santos.

People who want to help can also donate to Philadelphia's new Welcoming Fund, Kenney said.

Abbott's announcement follows criticism over buses that suddenly turned up in New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

Texas has transported more than 13,000 migrants to those cities since April. Abbott has sent the buses to Democratic-led cities as a way to maximize exposure over what he says is inaction by the Biden administration over high numbers of migrants crossing on the southern border.

Critics have waved off the buses as a political stunt, but voters rewarded Abbott last week with a record-tying third term as Texas governor in his race against Democrat Beto O’Rourke. Abbott made a series of hardline immigration measures the centerpiece of his campaign.

Nearly six in 10 Texas voters favored Abbott’s decision to send migrants to northern cities, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of almost 3,400 voters.

Kenney on Wednesday condemned Abbott's actions in a released statement.

“It's not just unproductive and disappointing, but downright irresponsible and calloused to do this unannounced and without coordination, showing blatant disregard for the sanctity of human lives," Kenney said Wednesday while saying the city "took the right path."

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