By MARYCLAIRE DALE
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A bus carrying 28 migrants from Texas arrived in Philadelphia on Wednesday, 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 before dawn said the families and individuals came from Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. The city and several nonprofit groups were ready to provide food, temporary housing and other services.
“In general, people feel relieved. We want them to know that they have a home here,” said Philadelphia City Council member Helen Gym, who accompanied several of the migrants onto a second bus taking them to a site where their needs could be assessed.
“There’s a 10-year-old who’s completely dehydrated. 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),” Gym said. “It’s a terrible situation.”
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.
Advocates who greeted the group, which included 21 adults, said it was not clear how long the 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.
Other buses have suddenly turned up in recent months 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 6 in 10 voters favored Abbott’s decision to send migrants to northern cities, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of almost 3,400 voters.
In a statement announcing the bus trips to Philadelphia, Abbott’s office said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney “has long-celebrated and fought for sanctuary city status, making the city an ideal addition to Texas’ list of drop-off locations.”
In a statement, Kenney said: “It is truly disgusting to hear today that Governor Abbott and his Administration continue to implement their purposefully cruel policy using immigrant families — including women and children — as pawns to shamelessly push his warped political agenda.”
Kenney said the city had been working with more than a dozen local organizations to provide the migrants with shelter space, emergency health screening, food, water, language interpretation and more. Some will likely make their way to other states.
Arizona and Florida have also sent migrants to northern U.S. cities.
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