Buses Carrying Migrants Sent By Texas Governor Will No Longer Stop In Chattanooga

Tuesday, August 16, 2022
Tamara Steward, city chief equity officer; Mayor Tim Kelly and Joda Thongnopnua, chief of staff discuss the issue of migrants stopping at Chattanooga
Tamara Steward, city chief equity officer; Mayor Tim Kelly and Joda Thongnopnua, chief of staff discuss the issue of migrants stopping at Chattanooga

Buses carrying migrants sent by Texas Governor Greg Abbott will no longer stop in Chattanooga, city officials said they were told on Tuesday.

Asked why not, Joda Thongnopnua of the mayor's office said officials here have mobilized to welcome and help the migrants. He said, "That was not exactly achieving the governor's political purposes."

Governor Abbott had been intending to send the migrants to Washington, D.C., and New York City, while saying Texas was being overrun with residents from south of the border due to lax border enforcement by the Biden Administration.

In recent days, 51 of the migrants had gotten off the bus at Chattanooga as of the weekend. Mayor Tim Kelly said most went to the Chattanooga Airport to fly to their final destination. He said he was aware of only four who plan to live here.

He said the city had been hearing about buses with migrants passing through, then a female city police officer spoke with bus company officials after checking out a bus that had stopped at the Comfort Inn and Suites. The mayor said the city learned the migrants were among those being sent by the Texas governor, and the city immediately began to mobilize to welcome the ones who got off here.

He said those involved in a team effort included the city, the city police department, the Chattanooga Airport and La Paz.

Mayor Kelly said it was learned that those on the buses had been vetted by Homeland Security. Each of those had been granted asylum to travel in the U.S. while their final status is being determined. He said they came from countries where they faced peril and had to flee. The countries include Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti, it was stated.

He said, "Obviously they had the proper credentials or they would not have been able to fly."

Mayor Kelly said some of them "ended up lost in a city where they didn't know how to get around." 

He said he was proud of the steps taken in Chattanooga to welcome the migrants. He said, "We stand ready to help again if the situation changes."


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