Texas Buses Like Chattanooga Choo Choo
for Migrants Getting Off in Southern States
August 15, 2022
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick put mayors in major American cities on notice on Monday with a threat to have Texas send buses filled with migrants to those that are controlled by Democrats after transporting them initially to Washington D.C. and New York City.
But Patrick said nothing in a far-reaching Fox News interview on Texas dropping migrants off in southern Republican bastions like Georgia and Tennessee. The police in Chattanooga and the tiny Georgia town of Rising Fawn say it's not that some of the bus drivers from Texas haven't tried.
Chattanooga officials say that buses transporting migrants from Texas to DC and NYC were stopping there so drivers could get sleep before their next shifts. Chattanooga police were summoned on Friday to a Comfrot Inn & Suites in a section of the city known as Lookout Mountain to conduct "a well-being check" after a bus from Texas arrived there with migrants on board.
A television crew from the ABC affiliate News Channel 9 spotted a charter bus from Texas attempt to let some migrants off in Chattanooga on the same day before the driver realized they were media and steered the vehicle back on to a freeway.
Across the state line in the nearby Georgia town of Rising Fawn, Dade County Sheriff Ray Cross said he was summoned to a call late last week on a Texas bus letting migrants off at a Pilot gasoline station where they'd decided to end their trips. Cross said he'd initiated a dialogue with the migrants who were deboarding in the rural Georgia outpost - using a translator to explain that they needed to stay on the bus and continue to their original destinations.
Patrick dismissed a question today from Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer on Monday on a report on migrants being denied the right to get off buses that have traveled from Texas when they so choose. Patrick said that the trips that the state is funding are purely voluntary for migrants who choose to go.
But Patrick also mentioned that the migrants who Texas is transporting to the northeast coast have agreed to go to a specific location. While that may be true on paper, Texas could be venturing into potential criminal territory if migrants have been prevented from leaving buses against their will at any point along the excursions.
Based on the reports from the Chattanooga area, migrants who've traveled on Texas charter buses could be getting off at points up and down the highways of the eastern U.S. in places that are more Republican than the Lone Star State.
Chattanooga is located in Hamilton County, which Donald Trump carried with almost 54 percent of the vote in 2020. While Rising Fawn is located in the Chattanooga metropolitan area, it's anchored in mostly rural Dade County where Trump won in 2020 with more than 81 percent of the vote.
But Joda Thongnopnua, the Chattanooga chief of staff, has responded to reports of Texas migrant dropoffs in the southwestern corner of Tennessee with open arms in sharp contrast to the Republican state leaders in Texas.
"We are aware that Chattanooga is apparently a stopping point for charter buses sent by the State of Texas to the East Coast carrying migrants following the legal process of asylum," Thongnopnua said in a statement on Friday. "We are coordinating a multi-agency response to ensure these individuals are able to connect with their families and safely arrive at their final destinations. This administration will respond with compassion to vulnerable people fleeing extremely difficult circumstances. It’s important to understand that these are migrants who have been screened by the Department of Homeland Security and are legally seeking asylum—which is a protected legal status."