Texas Gov. Greg Abbott defended sending buses of migrants from the Texas-Mexico border to Democrat-led cities amid a feud with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who accused Abbott of using migrants as “political pawns” amid a crisis on the southern border.
Abbott and Adams spoke with "Nightline" co-anchor Byron Pitts in interviews that aired on Wednesday, where Adams criticized the Republican governor for not coordinating the arrivals of migrants with NYC officials and Abbott doubled down on his policy to bus migrants out of Texas.
“We've got to secure our border because the Biden administration is not securing it,” Abbott said. “And then the reason why we began putting people on buses in the first place is because the Biden administration, they were literally dumping migrants off in small little towns of 10 or 25,000 people, and they were completely overwhelmed.”
Meanwhile, Adams criticized Abbott for not coordinating with NYC officials as buses of migrants arrived over the past two weeks.
“It’s the worst type of politics,” Adams said. “It’s hateful politics to raise his national profile and, you know what, you should not be doing it by taking away the respect and dignity of people who are in need.”
According to Adams, more than 6,000 migrants seeking asylum have arrived in NYC since May – many of whom were sent there due to Abbott’s busing policy.
Adams said during a June 21 press conference that the city will find shelter for migrants arriving from Texas under the state's "right to shelter" law.
But as thousands of asylum seekers arrived in New York City over the past couple of months, the shelter system has been strained and city officials acknowledged that the NYC Department of Social Services violated New York City’s right to shelter mandate when it failed to place four families in shelters overnight.
Asked about Adams’ accusation that the policy to move migrants to New York City is political showmanship and “un-American,” Abbott accused Adams of “playing politics” and called him a “hypocrite.”
“He's also being a hypocrite because New York City is a self-declared ‘sanctuary city,’” Abbott said. “And so why he's ever complaining for one moment about these people being bused into a city goes against his own self-declaration of being a sanctuary city.” The term “sanctuary city” refers to municipalities like New York City that are willing to defy federal immigration laws in order to protect undocumented immigrants.
According to an Aug. 5 statement from Abbott’s office, more than 6,500 migrants also have been sent on buses to Washington, D.C., and now New York City.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has requested help from the National Guard to deal with the crisis.
A defense official told ABC News in a statement on Aug. 5 that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin “has declined to approve the DCHSEMA request for DCNG to provide personnel and the DC Armory to assist the NGO, SAMU First Response, with transportation and reception of migrants arriving in the DC area.”
“We have determined providing this support would negatively impact the readiness of the DCNG and have negative effects on the organization and members,” the official said, adding that there is sufficient funding through FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program to address the crisis.
But Bowser renewed her call for help from the National Guard later that week.
“We need help from our federal partners as we seek to stabilize and manage our operating environment in this critical moment,” Bowser tweeted on Aug. 11. “I have been honored to work with the men and women of the DC National Guard many times and today we renewed our request for their assistance.”
Asked if he may also request help from the National Guard, Adams said, “We're going to do everything that's possible at this time.”
“We believe that we can continue to carry out our moral and legal responsibility,” he added. “We are calling on Washington. It is Washington's purpose to assist the states and cities during these difficult times. So we are looking for help from Washington, D.C.”
Adams urged Abbott to coordinate with NYC officials as buses continue to arrive in the city.
Asked if he had spoken directly with Abbott, Adams said, "no, I have not."
“He should have picked the phone up, and we should communicate because, as I stated, this is a crisis,” Adams said.
Pressed on whether he would work with Adams to coordinate migrant arrivals, Abbott said that he previously sent Adams a letter and urged him to visit Texas to witness the “chaos” of the migrant crisis in the state firsthand, but Adams did not take him up on the offer.
“Before we began busing illegal immigrants up to New York, it was just Texas and Arizona that bore the brunt of all of the chaos and all the problems that come with it. Now, the rest of America is understanding exactly what is going on,” Abbott said.
The feud between Adams and Abbott comes amid a heated policy battle between the Republican governor, who is currently seeking reelection, and the Biden administration over a surge of migrant arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border.
ABC News' Armando Garcia, Beatrice Peterson, Luis Martinez and Kyla Guilfoil contributed to this report.