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Eric Adams Goes After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Kind Of

He’s suing the bus companies that have brought tens of thousands of migrants to NYC—but why not sue the guy who put them on the buses?

9:34 AM EST on January 5, 2024

Asylum seekers line up for assistance outside of the Port Authority Bus Terminal on August 10, 2022.

Asylum seekers line up for assistance outside of the Port Authority Bus Terminal on August 10, 2022. (Hell Gate)

The Adams administration has been looking, for more than a year, for anyone to chip in for the costs of taking care of the tens of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers that have been arriving in the city since last year. Next up: the buses that have brought them here, at the behest of Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

On Thursday, Mayor Eric Adams filed a federal lawsuit against 17 charter bus companies, seeking more than $700 million in damages. That total is the amount City is claiming to have incurred in providing (famously shoddy) care for the 33,600 migrants that the companies have collectively transported from Texas. 

The lawsuit is based on a New York social services law that states "[a]ny person who knowingly brings, or causes to be brought, a needy person from out of state into this state for the purpose of making him a public charge…shall be obligated to convey such person out of state or support him at his own expense."

Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement accompanying the lawsuit that "Governor Abbott continues to use human beings as political pawns, and it's about time that the companies facilitating his actions take responsibility for their role in this ongoing crisis," and that she's "proud to support the mayor's lawsuit."

Who knows how this will hold up in court, but if you ask me, the migrant busing seems to have been done in "bad faith" and with "evil intentions." 

But one law professor told the New York Times that the lawsuit is "pure PR": 

The city is making a novel argument based on a law that has not been enforced since the Supreme Court declared in 1941 that such laws violate a constitutional right to travel — although it is possible the right to travel does not apply to noncitizens, said Roderick Hills, a professor at New York University’s law school.

"Nevertheless, the city seems to have reached deep into obsolete parts of the state code to find old laws that had been enacted in an age when states routinely excluded 'paupers' from their territory unless those indigent persons were 'settled' within the state," he said.

"Given the obsolescence and constitutional infirmity of this 1940s-era New York law," he added, it is "hard for me not to view this lawsuit as pure P.R."

If that's the case, why not sue the Texas governmental entities who put them on the buses, and paid them, as the suit claims, $1,650 per person, more than five times the cost of a typical one-way bus ticket from Texas to New York? But Texas Governor Greg Abbott is not named as a defendant in the suit, nor is the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Texas Governor Abbott responded by calling the lawsuit "baseless." In a statement on Thursday, Abbott wrote, "It's clear that Mayor Adams knows nothing about the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, or about the constitutional right to travel that has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court. Every migrant bused or flown to New York City did so voluntarily, after having been authorized by the Biden Administration to remain in the United States. As such, they have constitutional authority to travel across the country that Mayor Adams is interfering with." 

Abbott added, "If the Mayor persists in this lawsuit, he may be held legally accountable for his violations."

Whether or not this is just a desperate PR move by the Adams administration, it's been clear for months that Abbott has had the upper hand. And meanwhile, the real people being hurt are the tens of thousands of migrants that are being used as political cudgels.

Some links that aren’t just PR:

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