Philadelphia preparing for possible arrival of migrants from Texas

Officials called the situation "fluid," adding that Texas officials have not coordinated with the City of Philadelphia.

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Monday, November 14, 2022
Philly preparing for possible arrival of migrants from Texas
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"We will welcome them with open arms and do everything we can to make the transition smooth," said Philadelphia's Mayor Jim Kenney on Sunday.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The City of Philadelphia is preparing for the possible arrival of migrants from the southern border.

They reportedly left Texas Saturday hoping for a better life in the City of Brotherly Love.

The city says the situation is still fluid, but they are working with local partner organizations. The city says the buses should've departed sometime Saturday, but they haven't received confirmation if they've left yet.

"The migrants will be greeted, literally welcomed by various organizations because our city is one that is waiting for them literally with open arms," said Steven Barsamian, Esquire, an immigration lawyer in Bala Cynwyd.

The city says it's been relayed to them that there may be a bus with around 52 people seeking asylum. The group is planning to arrive in Philadelphia from Del Rio, Texas.

"We will welcome them with open arms and do everything we can to make the transition smooth," said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on Sunday. "It doesn't matter whether they found their way up here, whether they were put on a bus -- they are human beings. They want to be in America. They want to do what all of our, most of our ancestors have done, is just make their life in America."

Plans have been underway for the potential arrival of migrants from southern states since the summer. Governors from Texas and Florida have been sending migrants up to northern cities like New York City as a way to protest the Biden administration's immigration policies.

The city says the information was relayed to them from a community partner organization as Texas officials have not coordinated with the city.

They do not have an exact location of where the bus will disembark.

Once the migrants arrive, groups like HIAS Pennsylvania will be providing them with resources.

"Some of the materials that we're going to provide is going to be a map of the United States to show them where Philadelphia is," said Cathryn Miller-Wilson, the executive director of HIAS Pennsylvania. "We will be providing several 'know your rights' sessions in English and Spanish."

Part of a statement from the mayor's office sent to Action News said, "The agencies have been meeting and coordinating regularly with nearly 15 local community-based organizations and partners to plan a local response, including preparations for immediate reception and shelter space, emergency health screening, food, water, and more. The group has been meeting since August when community leaders alerted the city to the increased bussing to nearby cities of Washington, D.C. and New York City."

Barsamian says the next steps are for the migrants to stay close to the system.

"Don't drop out, don't be afraid, I mean after what they've been through, there's really nothing more that they could be afraid of," said Barsamian.

Barsamian says there should be an opportunity for the folks getting off the bus here.

"Philadelphia needs workers, and here's 52 of them coming in. They're not legal to work, they don't have employment authorization, but we're working on trying to figure out a way to get that for them quicker than the normal route," said Barsamian.

The city said, "City agencies, OEM mass care partners, immigrant leaders and immigrant-serving nonprofits stand ready to welcome, assist, and provide support to these individuals and their families if and when the bus arrives. We are a proud welcoming city and strongly believe that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Our diversity is our strength."

The city doesn't have specific information about the people on board, and they do not know if other buses are planned.

The city says more information will be released as it becomes available.