Op-ed | NYC’s lawsuit aims to stop Texas governor’s cruel migrant game

Migrants arrive on bus at Port Authority Bus Terminal
Migrants arrive at Port Authority bus terminal.
File photo/Dean Moses

Governor Greg Abbott of Texas has been busy creating chaos and dysfunction as he recklessly transports asylum seekers who have already completed harrowing journeys-across state lines into New York City.

The State of Texas is trying to set our city up for failure — as it is using people and families as political pawns. At present, bus and transportation companies have dropped off tens of thousands of migrants with no warning and at times throughout the day and night, not allowing New York City any time to prepare.

New York City is saying enough is enough and filing a lawsuit against the companies profiting from Governor Abbott’s cruel political stunts and posturing. The lawsuit seeks to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars that
the city has spent caring for the people transported. It also builds on the administration’s recent executive order, which requires better coordination between the charter buses and our city.

New York City is using the legal tools it has to stop this inhumane treatment from taking place. This is exactly what New York City should be doing.

It also speaks volumes that co-representing the city is Paul Weiss, including its chair and Steve Banks, who separately represents the Legal Aid Society and is a former Department of Social Services commissioner for New York City.

The state of Texas and the charter bus companies have no business playing political games with people’s lives. They are sending migrants to our doors, all to send a political message and have New York City foot the bill.

Asylum seekers deserve our compassion and care, and yet they are being used as political pawns. This is an unacceptable practice, and it must be put to a stop.

New York City is a city built by immigrants. We just know how much immigration benefits our economy, our culture, and our nation. Today’s asylum seeker is tomorrow’s entrepreneur, teacher, scientist, or business leader. Immigration is vital to our city and country’s productivity.

However, currently, our immigration system is broken. This is an issue that is national in scope, yet cities alone are tasked with finding solutions.

The federal government must take immediate and appropriate action: fix our immigration system, declare a state of federal emergency, create a decompression strategy at the border, and pay its fair share of this national
humanitarian crisis.

In the meantime, cities like New York are doing the best they can to fill the federal government’s shoes and manage the effects of the surge in asylum seekers, but we cannot continue to do so indefinitely. Nor can we allow others to continue to flout our laws, and profit from the chaos they are so callously causing.

This lawsuit cannot fix our immigration system or the underlying problems that have caused the surge in migrants, but it’s one of the many tools the Adams administration has implemented to tackle this crisis.

At the very least, this lawsuit can help hold companies and governments accountable to our city’s laws, help New York City get the support it needs, and help ensure those people seeking refuge in our country and city are treated as people, not pieces of a political game.

Dr. Hazel Dukes is president of the NAACP New York State Conference.