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FAQ: Transporting Migrants From the Border to Other States

In recent weeks, stories of governors from states on the U.S. southern border transporting migrants by bus or plane to other states has dominated the news. Below are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions to help you better understand the nuance and context behind these news stories:


  • Why are governors sending migrants to other states?
    • Governors who are using state funds to send migrants to other states and cities without warning or coordination are trying to make a political statement. Whatever the political impact, migrants themselves are caught in the middle as pawns in a political stunt.
    • These governors’ actions do not resolve challenges at the border or within our immigration process and come at great cost to their states’ taxpayers, who are paying for these efforts.
  • Who are these migrants being sent to other states?
    • Migrants in these transportation situations are first and foremost human beings with dignity and the lawful right to seek asylum in the U.S. Once they have been initially screened by Border Patrol, as all migrants who are transported have been, they may remain in the U.S. pending further hearings.
    • Many of these migrants are seeking asylum in the United States. Many have fled authoritarian and/or Communist regimes.
  • How does seeking asylum work?
    • Asylum seekers are people already in the United States who request protection from persecution they experienced in their country of origin.
    • Migrants who want to apply for asylum in the U.S. must demonstrate — using both testimony and material evidence — a “well-founded fear” of persecution in their home countries during court proceedings before an immigration judge.
    • The asylum process can take between 6 months and several years. During this process, asylum seekers are protected from deportation as long as they continue to check in with ICE and attend their court dates. Asylum seekers also have the right to work, although for some it will take months or even a year to be officially granted work authorization.
    • For more on how this process works, read our full fact sheet here.
  • What is happening in communities where migrants are being sent?

    • Communities that receive immigrants — those on the border and those far from it — know that doing so is a blessing and an opportunity to affirm migrants’ humanity.
    • People in California, Arizona, Florida, New Mexico and Texas have been welcoming and caring for asylum seekers for years, helping migrants short- and long-term to access transportation and resources as they enter the United States. These communities are set up to receive these migrants, with shelters, resources and organizations geared toward getting them the aid they need.
    • Residents in Washington, D.C., New York City, Illinois, Martha’s Vineyard, New Jersey and Delaware have been welcoming or ready to welcome migrants with open arms, grateful for the opportunity to assist.
  • What should our elected officials be doing to find solutions around the border?
    • Our elected leaders should focus on working toward solutions that promote human dignity and strengthen our communities. Seeking safety is a human and legal right. Migrants seeking asylum — which is legal — should be treated with respect, not as pawns in a political stunt.
    • The urgent need for Congress and the administration to act on border and immigration solutions has never been clearer. Democrats and Republicans need to come together in a serious way and offer solutions that make border security and management humane, orderly and smart.
    • Americans want Democrats and Republicans to work together on immigration reforms, beginning with those that strengthen border security, create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, and ensure a legal, reliable workforce for America’s farmers and ranchers.

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