Sanctuary City Showdown: Abbott expands immigration relocation to Chicago, much to the dismay of Illinois officials

In 2023, Texas Governor Greg Abbott continued to provoke both the Chicago mayor and the Governor of Illinois by transporting over 120 immigrants to the sanctuary city by air.

Abbott’s crackdown on sanctuary cities is taking a new turn as the operation now includes air travel. This move expands on the already contentious Operation Lone Star, which has transported around 80,000 migrants from the Texas border to cities like Washington D.C., New York City, and Los Angeles since its launch in April 2022.

The Governor’s office strongly criticizes the Biden administration’s immigration policies, labeling them as a response to what they perceive as a crisis. Governor Abbott himself has referred to it as “an invasion,” attributing it to the lack of federal action.

On Tuesday, a new batch of immigrants was transported, marking the first instance where they were flown instead of being bused.

Last week, Chicago officials took decisive action by seizing a bus after its driver disregarded local regulations aimed at combating the problem.

According to information obtained from the governor’s office by the San Marcos Record, the transportation of the latest group on Tuesday, which was flown for the first time, indicates an escalation of Abbott’s ongoing dispute with municipalities. The governor accuses these cities of not adequately addressing immigration issues while claiming sanctuary status. The latest battleground for this confrontation is Chicago, which has openly clashed with Abbott over its “Welcoming City” ordinance.

Abbott’s spokesperson, Andrew Mahaleris, criticized Mayor Brandon Johnson of Chicago for not following his own city’s policies. This led to an escalated response from Texas.

Upon crossing the Rio Grande, these immigrants willingly surrendered themselves to authorities and underwent a thorough vetting process before Texas arranged their transportation. It is noteworthy that migrants who signed consent waivers prior to boarding the buses and now flights organized by the state indicate that there is still a sense of order at the heart of this process, despite the aforementioned conflict.

Contrary to popular belief, Abbott is not transporting “illegal” migrants. The majority of these individuals have actually applied for and received asylum-seeker status.

Border cities still face daily complexities despite a 7% reduction in border encounters from the previous fiscal year. Previously unreleased data reveals that high daily apprehensions persist, shedding light on the ongoing challenges of migration and patrolling. The latest federal data highlights the relentless trials these cities endure.

Texans at the border and law enforcement alike are voicing concerns regarding the controversial mixing of federal and state personnel.

Despite facing criticism from lawmakers and various groups in Chicago and across the country, Abbott remains steadfast in his approach to managing the influx of migrants at the border.

Recently, the governor gave his approval to Senate Bill 4, a highly debated law that seeks to strengthen penalties for unauthorized border crossings, including the possibility of imprisonment and severe consequences for repeat offenders. The constitutionality of S.B. 4 has been challenged in court by the national American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The Arizona chapter of the ACLU issued a travel advisory, drawing an unfavorable comparison between the new law and the controversial and unsuccessful S.B. 1070 in their state. S.B. 1070 was also known as a “show me your papers” law.

The ACLU and several immigrant rights groups are currently pursuing an injunction against the law, which is scheduled to take effect on March 5, 2024.

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