(CNN) — A plane with more than 350 asylum-seekers onboard arrived early Sunday morning at an airport near Chicago from Texas, according to officials, part of the state’s monthslong effort to send thousands of migrants to major cities around the country with little notice.
The City of Rockford said in a Facebook post Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana, Winnebago County Board Chairman Joe Chiarelli, and Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara received word a plane carrying migrants would land at Rockford International Airport Saturday night.
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said Sunday on X, formerly known as Twitter, “there was no communication from Texas” and City of Chicago officials first learned about the flight from San Antonio from Rockford authorities.
“This is the second recorded instance of the Texas governor transporting asylum-seekers via private plane,” Johnson added on X.
Rockford officials said on Facebook after the plane landed at around 1 a.m., the 355 migrants onboard were immediately put on buses.
Initially, Rockford officials indicated the passengers would be taken to Chicago’s downtown “landing zone.” They later updated on Facebook, saying the buses were escorted by Winnebago County Sheriff’s deputies and taken to the McHenry County line about 60 miles northwest of the landing zone.
Officials added the buses did not make any stops along the way.
Johnson added in an X post Sunday Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott chartered the buses, and those onboard were “dropped in various surrounding suburbs, left to find their way to the city.”
CNN has reached out to Abbott’s office Sunday about the Rockford flight and buses into Chicago.
At Abbott’s direction, Texas has bused more than 90,000 migrants to “sanctuary cities” run by Democrats like Washington, DC, New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles since April 2022, according to numbers released by the governor’s office Friday. In Chicago specifically, more than 28,000 asylum-seekers have arrived since August 2022.
In justifying the busing of migrants who cross the southern border, Abbott said in a statement last year “it was just Texas and Arizona that bore the brunt of all the chaos and problems that come with it.”
“Now, the rest of America can understand exactly what is going on,” he said.
Many of the migrants arrive with extremely limited resources, CNN previously reported. They’ve been stripped of their warm clothing by Border Patrol agents and condensed their belongings to a single bag, often arriving at cold northeastern cities with “just a single T-shirt,” Pedro Rios, San Diego program director of the American Friends Service Committee’s U.S./Mexico Border Program, told CNN Friday.
Rockford city officials said on Facebook if more flights land there, they will activate the local Emergency Operations Center “to coordinate logistics and planning to ensure the safety of all involved throughout this process.”
On Sunday, the mayor described the situation as “an international and federal crisis that local governments are being asked to subsidize” on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
He said the current situation is “unsustainable.”
“What we’ve attempted to do is to create structure and coordination around this humanitarian crisis, and unfortunately, the Governor of Texas, Governor [Greg] Abbott, is determined to continue to sow seeds of chaos,” Johnson said. “He’s taking on this very dangerous task of placing individuals on airplanes and flying them into our various cities. This is certainly a matter of not just our national security, but it’s the type of chaos that this governor is committed to administering.”
Chicago earlier this month began impounding and towing buses after passing a city ordinance to contend with “rogue buses” from Texas dropping off migrants throughout the city, CNN previously reported.
The flights and buses from Texas also come amid an uptick in migrants crossing into the US at the southern border. Border authorities encountered more than 225,000 migrants along the US-Mexico border this month, marking the highest monthly total recorded since 2000, according to preliminary Homeland Security statistics shared with CNN.
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