The Eric Adams–Greg Abbott Feud Continues to Escalate



Photo: Luiz C. Ribeiro for New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

On Thursday, Eric Adams fired the latest shot in his ongoing feud with Texas governor Greg Abbott, announcing a lawsuit against 17 of the Texas charter-bus companies the state uses to shuttle asylum seekers to New York City.

“These companies have violated state law by not paying the cost of caring for these migrants, and that’s why we are suing to recoup approximately $700 million already spent to care for migrants bussed here in the last two years by the state of Texas,” Adams said in a prerecorded video announcing the lawsuit.

Although Abbott isn’t personally named in the lawsuit, the mayor made it clear that the city’s legal action is intended as a message to the governor.

“Governor Abbott’s continued use of migrants as political pawns is not only chaotic and inhumane but makes clear he puts politics over people. Today’s lawsuit should serve as a warning to all those who break the law in this way,” Adams said.

Since 2022, Abbott has transported tens of thousands of asylum seekers from his state to sanctuary cities across the country, infuriating Democratic state and local leaders who view his actions as both inhumane and financially onerous to the states and cities that have to house and provide for the newcomers.

Texas’s transporting of migrants to sanctuary cities began as a part of Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, a 2021 initiative the governor said was intended to increase border security and stem the flow of drug trafficking and illegal immigration in light of what he considers to be President Biden’s “open border policies.”

Just last month, Abbott boasted that Texas had sent more than 33,600 migrants to New York City since August 2022 as a result of Operation Lone Star. However, the initiative has been criticized for both claims of civil-rights abuses and its hefty price tag. The operation is said to be costing Texas taxpayers $2.5 million a week, per a 2022 joint investigation by the Texas Tribune, ProPublica, and the Marshall Project.

Chief among Abbott’s critics is Mayor Adams, who has been adamant that the migrant crisis will “destroy New York City.” He has laid at Abbott’s feet the blame for the financial and logistical burden his administration is contending with, saying earlier this week that the governor “just wants to create chaos.”

The lawsuit cites the New York Social Services Law and alleges that the companies violated Section 149 of the statute, which states, “Any person who knowingly brings, or causes to be brought, a needy person from out of state into this state for the purpose of making him a public charge … shall be obligated to convey such person out of state or support him at his own expense.” In other words, the city’s counsel is arguing that the companies bear some responsibility for the cost of caring for the asylum seekers they transport into the city.

Abbott himself issued a statement calling the lawsuit “baseless” and claiming his actions in transporting asylum seekers are allowed under the U.S. Constitution.

This is only the latest tack Adams has taken in an attempt to limit the Texas buses. In late December, the mayor issued an executive order requiring buses to give 32 hours’ notice of their arrival and limiting where and when passengers can be dropped off at “a designated location in midtown Manhattan.” During a media availability with the mayors of Chicago and Denver, Adams suggested violators of the order could be subjected to fines, a misdemeanor charge, or having their buses impounded.

“To be clear, this is not about stopping people from coming, but about ensuring the safety of migrants and making sure they can arrive in a coordinated and orderly way,” he said.

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