A bus from Texas loaded with migrants from seven countries arrived in downtown Los Angeles on Monday morning, marking the 12th such transfer since mid-June.
Zach Seidl, L.A.'s deputy mayor of communications, said that when officials learned Sunday the bus was on its way to Union Station, they activated the city's response plan in coordination with Los Angeles County officials, a coalition of nonprofit organizations and "faith partners." That plan involves connecting the new arrivals with services and with the relatives, friends or sponsors they are trying to see.
Half of the 42 occupants of the bus were children, said Jorge-Mario Cabrera, a spokesman for the Los Angeles-based Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights. The 11 families on board came from Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Russia.
The L.A. City Council voted unanimously last week to explore whether the city can sue Texas and its governor, Greg Abbott, for busing migrants here. Their inquiry stemmed from the first busload of 42 people, which arrived on June 14 after what Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martínez described as a 23-hour ride with little or no food or water.
Cabrera said that most of the newest arrivals indicated they have loved ones in the area, so they plan to stay here. Others will be joining family, friends or sponsors in Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego and Central California, he said.
The migrants said they were fleeing horrific instances of violence, abuse or threats, Cabrera said, adding, "What they want is to reach a place where they no longer have that fear."
"Their long process to seek asylum begins the moment they see an attorney. That’s what we hope to provide for them," Cabrera said. In that meeting, they'll receive an initial assessment of "how difficult the process is and what they can expect."
By the time they reached Los Angeles, the bus riders had made contact with the people they were planning to join, Cabrera said. Typically, those with relatives or loved ones in the area will connect within hours of the bus' arrival.
The migrants' cases may be assigned to immigration courts far from where they are staying, so one thing the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights works on is applications to move the cases to courts nearby, Cabrera said. For those who qualify, the organization will also apply for work permits.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.