EXPLAINER: Migrants transported by bus and plane can live in the United States – for now

Republican governors have sent more freed migrants across the US border with Mexico to Democratic strongholds, raising questions about their legal status, how they are lured aboard buses and planes and the cost to taxpayers.

Last week, Ron DeSantis of Florida flew about 50 Venezuelans to the small upscale island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Over the weekend, Greg Abbott of Texas ferried more migrants to the home of Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington.

US authorities are grappling with an unusually high number of migrants crossing the border from Mexico amid rapidly changing demographics. The administration said Monday that people from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua made up more than one of three migrants arrested at the border in August.

Since April, Texas has transported about 8,000 migrants to Washington, 2,200 to New York and 300 to Chicago. Arizona has transported more than 1,800 people to Washington since May, while the city of El Paso, Texas has transported more than 1,100 people to New York since August 23.

Here are some questions and answers:

ARE MIGRANTS LEGAL IN THE USA?

Yes, temporarily. Tens of thousands of migrants who cross the border illegally from Mexico are released into the United States each month with notices to appear in immigration court to seek asylum or humanitarian parole with the obligation to present regularly to the immigration authorities. Migrants can seek asylum if they enter the country illegally under US and international law, and US authorities have broad authority to grant parole based on individual circumstances.

Migrants must maintain a current address with authorities, who schedule appointments in a city with the nearest court or immigration office. They must apply separately for permission to work.

Last year, it took an average of nearly four years for asylum claims to be decided in immigration court, according to the Biden administration, leaving migrants in a legal purgatory that protects them from death. expulsion. The backlog in immigration courts has multiplied to more than 1.9 million cases, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

To avoid massive overcrowding in detention centers, the administration began releasing many migrants on humanitarian parole. Border Patrol paroled nearly 250,000 migrants from August to June, including 40,151 in June, according to the latest figures released. In the previous seven months, it had only granted parole to 11 migrants.

ARE THESE MIGRANTS ABDUCTED?

Kidnapping is a high legal threshold, but migrants airlifted to Martha’s Vineyard say they were taken there under false pretences. Migrants sign waivers stating that transportation is free and voluntary.

DeSantis used a state program in which migrants deemed “unauthorized aliens” can be moved “from Florida,” although the governor acknowledged the flights originated in Texas.

They first stopped in Florida, before heading to Martha’s Vineyard, but DeSantis didn’t insist on that. Instead, he argues that the two flights were a legitimate use of the funds because the migrants would otherwise have intended to get to Florida, although he provided no evidence of this or said how the migrants would have could be controlled.

Migrants who boarded the flights told The Associated Press that a woman who approached them at a San Antonio shelter promised them jobs and three months of housing in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Boston.

DOES THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION NOT BUS AND FLY MIGRANTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY?

Yes, but under different circumstances. Like previous administrations, it ferries migrants between detention centers, often on the verge of being deported from the country.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted more than 4,800 domestic flights last year, including 434 in August, according to Witness to the Border, a group that criticizes US law enforcement. The top five destinations from March to August were: Alexandria, Louisiana; Laredo, Texas; Phoenix; and Harlingen and El Paso in Texas. The ICE also transports many migrants.

The Department of Health and Human Services transports unaccompanied children to “sponsors,” which are often family or child-only detention facilities.

HAS ANYBODY ASKED THIS?

Republican-run states say they send migrants to “sanctuary” cities that welcome immigrants. If the definition of a sanctuary city is fuzzy, a sudden influx of migrants can test attitudes and the limits of generosity.

Chicago’s “Welcoming City Ordinance” prohibits asking people their immigration status, refusing services based on immigration status, and disclosing information to federal immigration authorities.

New York limits cooperation with US immigration authorities, in part by banning police officers from participating in joint enforcement and/or letting immigration officers work in city jails.

In Martha’s Vineyard, the six towns that make up the island south of Boston have issued no “sanctuary” claims.

The Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates restrictions, maintains a long list of “sanctuary” jurisdictions that, by definition, limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. They include Boston and seven other Massachusetts cities. None of the towns in Martha’s Vineyard are on the list.

WHO PAYS AND HOW MUCH?

Texas has committed billions of dollars to Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star,” an unprecedented border security initiative that includes bus rides, trespassing border crossings, and a massive presence of US troops. State and National Guard.

The Florida Legislature has allocated $12 million for its program for the current budget year.

The city of El Paso, which last week hired a private bus company at a cost of up to $2 million, plans to seek reimbursement from the federal government.

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Associated Press reporters Don Babwin in Chicago, Anthony Izaguirre in Tallahassee, Florida, and Sophia Tulp and Philip Marcelo in New York contributed to this report.

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