Gov. Greg Abbott’s migrant busing program has cost $12 million since it began, amounting to an average of about $1,300 per person per ride to destinations on the East Coast.
The migrant busing program under Operation Lone Star has provided transportation free of cost to 9,200 migrants since it began in April, delivering them to New York City and Washington, D.C.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management told the El Paso Times that, as of mid-August, the state agency “has paid over $12 million transporting migrants processed and released by the federal government in Texas border communities.” That works out to $1,304.35 per trip.
Comparatively, a one-way, same-day ticket on a Greyhound bus from El Paso costs $291 to New York City and $324 to Washington, D.C. Same-day flights to either destination are under $400.
The governor’s office began asking for private donations to fund the trips. According to the San Antonio Express-News, the state had raised more than $118,000 by late July — far short of the program’s cost.
Despite high levels of immigration through the Paso del Norte region through the summer, El Paso resisted participating in the program until this week.
On Monday, the city-county Office of Emergency Management confirmed it “is working with the State of Texas to help augment the City/OEM’s efforts to provide transportation of the migrants that do not have sponsors,” according to a statement attributed to Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino.
The city didn’t immediately respond to a request for the total cost of the four city-sponsored charter buses for migrants, although OEM said it is seeking reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A press conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. today.
A state-funded bus bound for Chicago didn’t leave on Monday after too few migrants wanted the ride, according to John Martin, deputy director of El Paso’s Opportunity Center for the Homeless.