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Texas begins flying illegal immigrants to Chicago after city starts impounding buses

Texas flew more than 120 illegal immigrants to Chicago this week.

Published: December 21, 2023 9:34am

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is sending illegal immigrants to Chicago via airplane after the Illinois city started impounding buses associated with Texas' border security effort known as Operation Lone Star. 

"Sanctuary city Chicago started obstructing and targeting our busing mission. Texas will now expand our operation to include flights to Chicago," Abbott, a Republican, said Wednesday on X, formerly Twitter. "Until Biden steps up to secure the border, we will continue to provide overwhelmed Texas border towns with much-needed relief."

Chicago Democratic Mayor Brandon Johnson "is failing to live up to his city's 'Welcoming City' ordinance by targeting migrant buses from Texas," Abbott spokesperson Andrew Mahaleris said on X, referring to how Chicago's "Welcoming City Ordinance," which prohibits the city from denying taxpayer-funded services to people based on their immigration status or citizenship. The ordinance also stops the police department from working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants who have an outstanding arrest warrant, have a felony conviction or were in the city's gang database.

A flight from El Paso carried more than 120 passengers to Chicago on Tuesday, Mahaleris said. 

Last week, Chicago began impounding incoming migrant buses without a permit from the city and looking to other locations in Illinois to send the new arrivals. Illinois spent more than $500 million in 2023 alone to assist the approximately 24,000 illegal immigrants who have arrived in Chicago over the past 16 months.

Since the launch of Operation Lone Star, Texas has bused more than 82,900 illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities across the nation and apprehended more than 488,500 illegal immigrants, according to Abbott and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

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