Records: Abbott’s migrant busing cost Texas $124 million

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas has spent more than $124 million sending buses of migrants to sanctuary cities, according to records obtained by Nexstar.

According to documents Nexstar obtained, Texas has paid $124,603,616.19 to bus more than 100,000 migrants from the state’s border communities to Washington D.C., New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles as of Jan. 10. That equals out to 2,245 buses year to date, an average of 45 migrants per bus.

Nexstar obtained the documents through a public information request to the Texas Division of Emergency Management — the agency tasked with this initiative. The majority of the payments have been made to Wynne Transportation LLC, with a handful of payments made to Transportation Management Services Inc.

The program sends migrants to other U.S. cities as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star” — a multibillion dollar initiative to slow down border crossings. The Republican governor began sending busloads of migrants outside of the state in April 2022, saying it will ease the burden of immigration on Texas cities.

Who is paying for the buses?

Taxpayers are footing about 99.6% of the total cost of these buses, coming from money already appropriated by the Texas Legislature for border security under Operation Lone Star.

Abbott created a donation portal for the program when it first launched to help supplement state dollars. As of early December 2023, the state has raised $460,196 to help pay for the buses, according to the governor’s office.

Migrants are being bused on a voluntary basis and do not pay the state to be transported. The documents did not detail price per passenger, since migrants are not paying for their ticket.

Nexstar is seeking to obtain the latest detailed invoices about costs incurred for each bus. In September 2022, busing records from TDEM that Nexstar obtained showed the costs included the amount charged to the state for bus mileage, driver pay and security personnel — which had been the most expensive aspect. At the time, a senior spokesperson with TDEM told Nexstar the state saw security as a necessary precaution to take, in order to protect “passengers and drivers as they make a cross-country trip.”

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