White House says Republican governors shipping migrants to other states is ‘reckless,’ ‘shameful’

Last updated on September 15, 2022

The White House on Thursday blasted Republican governors who have sent undocumented immigrants to other states in recent days.

“We have had a process in place, there is a legal way of doing this, and for managing migrants,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a White House press briefing. “Republican governors interfering in that process and using migrants as political pawns is shameful, is reckless, and just plain wrong.”

Two busloads of migrants were dropped off near Vice President Kamala Harris’ home, outside the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, on Thursday morning. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted that he sent the buses of migrants “to her backyard to call on the Biden Administration to do its job & secure the border.” Abbott over the past few months has sent thousands of migrants out of Texas to cities with Democratic mayors, including New York and Chicago.

The political tactic is being increasingly deployed by Republican governors with high influxes of undocumented immigrants to draw attention to what they consider failed immigration policies from the Biden administration. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday sent two planeloads of migrants to the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Jean-Pierre did not hold back in railing against the strategy on Thursday, calling it a “cruel, premeditated political stunt.” She said that if the governors “truly care about border security,” they would have encouraged Republican senators from their states — including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida — to vote to approve President Joe Biden’s request for Department of Homeland Security funding.

The press secretary also bristled at the fact that Fox News was alerted about the plan to drop the migrants outside of Harris’ residence before DHS or local government agencies became aware.

“The fact that Fox News and not the Department of Homeland Security, the city or local NGOs were alerted about a plan to leave migrants, including children, on the side of a busy D.C. street makes clear that this is just a cruel premeditated political stunt,” she said.

On whether the Biden administration will take legal action against the governors for the tactic, Jean-Pierre deferred to the Justice Department. She reiterated there is a process to taking in migrants that Republican governors are disrespecting, and said it’s “deeply alarming” that migrants were misled about where they were being taken.

“It’s really just disrespectful to humanity,” she said. “It doesn’t afford them any dignity what they’re doing, when you’re abandoning families and children in a place where they were told they were going to get housing and a place where they were told they were going to get jobs. … It’s just cruel.”