Bus of asylum seekers from Texas arrives in Philadelphia

Community-based organizations will help with shelter space, emergency health screenings and language interpretation.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Bus of asylum seekers from Texas arrives in Philadelphia
A bus carrying 28 migrants from Texas arrived in Philadelphia Friday, including a 10-year-old girl suffering from dehydration and a high fever who was whisked to a hospital for treatment.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The bus from Texas pulled into 30th Street Station in Philadelphia shortly after 6 a.m. Wednesday.

It was carrying 28 passengers, including children, legally seeking asylum in the United States.

Among the children was a 10-year-old girl suffering from dehydration and a high fever who was whisked to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for treatment.

"Those who arrived today are private individuals simply seeking safety and a place where they can build a future. Let's remember that and welcome them with grace and respect," Democratic Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said during a press conference later in the morning. "Many, if not all, are seeking asylum and have demonstrated they face real dangers of being or have been harmed in their homeland because of their race, religion or their politics. This is a human right protected under our laws."

Migrants sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott arrive near 30th Street Station Wednesday morning, Nov. 16, 2022, in Philadelphia.
AP Photo/Joe Lamberti

Nonprofit 'Casa de Venezuela' was standing by and ready to help.

"They're exhausted, they're tired," explained Emelio Buitrago of Casa de Venezuela.

Buitrago continued, "They're happy that they're getting to a place where they feel welcome."

City agencies and community organizations were ready. There was an empty SEPTA bus waiting, as were food, drinks and supplies like warm coats.

Twenty-three-year-old Dobin Garmendia, who came to the US from Nicaragua, said there were no problems aboard the bus.

The city and community partners have been preparing for this for months, ever since southern states started sending migrants up to northern cities like New York as a way to protest the Biden administration's immigration policies.

Councilmember Helen Gym was there and lambasted Texas Governor Greg Abbott for what she calls a political stunt.

"The thing that I would say I'm most angry about is that they put a sick child on there. She's dehydrated. She needs care. She'll be fine, but she's 10 years old and that is the thing we need to understand - that this is not a humane act," Gym said.

Action News is told the child will be attending school in Philadelphia once she is healthy.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole expressed frustration in the lack of health screenings for the families in Texas before boarding the bus to Philadelphia.

A bus carrying migrants from Texas has arrived in Philadelphia, including a 10-year-old girl suffering from dehydration and a high fever who was whisked to a hospital for treatment.

Many of the passengers were bused to a welcome center in Juniata Park for further assessments and to discuss relocation.

"The majority of them are not staying; this is a pit stop and the majority of them are going to New York, Ohio and New Jersey," said Rep. Amen Brown.

Some passengers were already picked up by family or friends, including 24-year-old Georgina, originally from Panama. She plans to stay in Philadelphia and said all was going well inside the welcome center.

"The important is that they got to Philadelphia, and they were received with open arms," said Buitrago.

Philadelphia joins Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago as destinations for asylum seekers being sent out of Texas.

In a statement, Abbott, a Republican, criticized the Biden administration's border policies, saying Texas is "overwhelmed by the historic influx of migrants."

Abbott said Texas will continue to add more sanctuary cities as drop-off locations "until the Biden Administration does its job and provides Texas and the American people with sustainable border security."

Kenney condemned Abbott's comments, saying in a statement, "It is truly disgusting to hear today that Governor Abbott and his Administration continue to implement their purposefully cruel policy using immigrant families-including women and children-as pawns to shamelessly push his warped political agenda."

Abbott's office released a statement Monday night saying the Texas wasn't "currently" sending migrants to Philadelphia.

Among the organizations helping the migrants is New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia.

"We have a good team we've been preparing for this for a couple of months, making sure that when they come they're welcomed and supported and they have what they need," said Peter Pedemonti, the co-director of New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia.

In total, 15 local community-based organizations and partners will help with immediate reception and shelter space, emergency health screenings and language interpretation.

Groups like HIAS Pennsylvania will be providing the migrants with plenty of 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."


The City of Philadelphia's Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) and the Mayor's Fund for Philadelphia have launched the Philadelphia Welcoming Fund to allow Philadelphia residents the opportunity to contribute to local efforts to welcome immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers arriving in Philadelphia.

City officials are stressing that monetary donations are the best way to help the arriving migrants.

The funds collected by the Welcoming Fund will be provided to nonprofit organizations in the Philadelphia area that are supporting new arrivals.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.