15th bus carrying people seeking asylum arrives in Philadelphia from Texas

File photo: Migrants sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott arrive near 30th Street Station Wednesday morning, Nov. 16, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Joe Lamberti)

File photo: Migrants sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott arrive near 30th Street Station Wednesday morning, Nov. 16, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Joe Lamberti)

More than 600 people seeking asylum have now been sent to Philadelphia from Texas after a fifteenth bus arrived Thursday morning at 30th Street Station.

Approximately 60 people were on the latest bus, according to a statement from Mayor Jim Kenney’s office, and at least 43 of them were taken to the city’s welcoming facility to receive aid. This follows two buses that arrived Christmas Eve carrying 99 people.

People arriving on the buses — many of whom hail from Colombia, Cuba, Panama, Peru, Nicaragua, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela — were offered health screenings, shelter, food, legal and social services, and on-site language interpretation.

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Philadelphia officials are encouraging residents to donate to the city’s Welcoming Fund, which will disperse money to local nonprofits to aid those seeking asylum.

Local organizations providing help include Casa de Venezuela Philadelphia and the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, which set up a Walmart shopping list; items purchased will go directly to the arriving asylum-seekers.

Other organizations providing aid in Philly include:

Funds are also being raised to provide SEPTA Key cards to asylum seekers. So far, at least 15 cards have been distributed.

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Texas has been sending people to Philadelphia since Nov. 15. The efforts have been led by Gov. Greg Abbott, and have been characterized by Mayor Kenney as a “purposefully cruel policy using immigrant families as pawns.”

Philly was a relatively late addition to Gov. Abbott’s destination list. Texas has sent upwards of 4,500 asylum seekers to New York City, over 1,500 to Chicago, and more than 8,700 have been sent to Washington, D.C. since April. On Christmas Eve, in below-freezing weather, several busloads of people were dropped off outside of Vice President Kamala Harris’s residence.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus in April criticized Abbott’s decision to “move migrants without adequately coordinating with the federal government and local border communities.”

According to the Texas Division of Emergency Management, more than $12 million has been spent on the busing efforts.

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