'Make my day': Texas Gov. Abbott challenges NYC Mayor Adams over migrant busing dispute

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is firing back at New York City Mayor Eric Adams after he threatened to send bus loads of New Yorkers to Texas to campaign against Abbott's re-election bid.

"I kind of feel like Clint Eastwood. Go ahead, Mayor. Make my day," Abbott publicly declared Wednesday.

The dueling politicians have gone back and forth since the Lone Star State began busing migrants from the Texas-Mexico border to the Big Apple on Aug. 5.

Since late last week, at least 160 migrants have stepped off buses in New York City, Shaina Coronel, a spokesperson for Manuel Castro, the Commissioner for the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs told USA TODAY Thursday.

Abbott’s comments came after Adams’ said  he was considering taking a busload of New Yorkers to Texas "and do some good, old-fashioned door-knocking” against the Texas governor.

On Thursday morning Abbott tweeted Texas was taking "unprecedented action to stop the influx of illegal immigrants crossing the border."

Last month Abbott deployed thousands of Department of Public Safety officers and Texas National Guard troops to the southern border to arrest and detain migrants crossing illegally from Mexico, bolstering federal immigration enforcement – a program critics say is unconstitutional.

Abbott, a Republican, said he plans to keep chartering buses to send asylum-seekers to New York, saying Adams, a Democrat, was merely “getting a taste” of what border communities have been dealing with in Texas.

"Mayor Adams has no idea what Texas deals with every day at our southern border," Abbott tweeted Wednesday. "Despite its sanctuary city policy, NYC can't handle even a fraction of the chaos Biden has created. This should be a wake-up call to the Biden administration to do its job & secure the border."

Customs and Border Protection officials encountered 207,416 individuals at the United States' southwest land border in June, a drop from May when 240,911 took place, according to the most recent available data.

CBP officers in April encountered 235,706 people at the United States' southern border, an uptick from March and the highest total for one month in 22 years.

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In response to Abbott's claims, Adams said the Texas governor was using "innocent people as political pawns to manufacture a crisis."

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is sending migrants to New York City in response to record-breaking immigration on the southern border.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott is sending migrants to New York City in response to record-breaking immigration on the southern border.

Thousands of migrants bused in

Coronel said New York City intake centers were already overwhelmed with more than 5,000 migrants since a surge that began in May.

On Wednesday, three buses with 92 migrants from Texas arrived in the city. Coronel said the people arrived before 8 a.m. and were from countries including Venezuela and Colombia.

"We saw a mix of single individuals, a mother with kids, it’s a mix of everything. We don’t exactly have the number of children yet," Coronel said.

Over the weekend, she said, 68 migrants arrived by bus from Texas.

"They're asylum seekers, they deserve to be here," Castro said. "What Governor Abbott doing is wrong... it's cruel, frankly it's disgusting and it's pure cowardice to play with people's lives who have been through so much."

Washington, D.C. has also received busloads of migrants from Texas and Arizona, after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey announced similar plans earlier this year. From May through early August, more than 1,300 migrants were bused from Arizona to D.C.

Texas has also sent more than 6,100 migrants on buses to Washington, D.C., NPR reported this week.

Adams and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser are asking for federal aid to help their cities deal with the new flow of migrants, NPR reported, with many being assisted by non-profits, shelters and other agencies.

Contributing: The Associated Press.

Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Texas Gov. challenges NYC mayor, buses migrants to Big Apple