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Gov. Greg Abbott asked donors to help pay for busing migrants. The response isn't covering the bills

Jose Luis Magana/AP
FR159526 AP
Migrants hold Red Cross blankets after arriving on buses at Washington, D.C.'s Union Station from Texas in April. At the time, the District of Columbia requested National Guard assistance to help stem a "growing humanitarian crisis" prompted by thousands of migrants that had been sent to Washington by governors in Texas and Arizona.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been railing against migrants coming to the border and blaming the federal government for not doing enough to stop them.

And after launching a controversial program to bus the migrants to other states, he appealed to private donors to help cover the transportation costs.

But total contributions to the so-called "Border Transportation Funding" fall well short of the more than $12 million price tag to transport migrants to New York, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

Data obtained by KERA after filing an open records request shows that about 3,000 people contributed more than $264,000 between mid-April and mid-August.

Renae Eze, the governor's press secretary, said in a statement that after Abbott announced his plan to bus migrants, "we received an outpouring of support from across our state and the entire country of people wanting to help and donate to the operation, raising over $344,000 so far." That, according to the governor's website, was as of Sept. 12.

Critics have described the program as a political stunt while supporters applaud Abbott. Mayors in cities where migrants have been dropped off have called foul while others say some migrants welcome the bus rides to other cities.

“Gov. Abbott has confirmed what unfortunately many of us already had known, that he is a man without any morals, humanity or shame,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in the Chicago Tribune earlier this month. "...These are human beings. Moms and dads, young children, elders who deserve our respect and dignity. They’re not cargo. They are not chattel. They’re human beings.”

Eze said that President Joe Biden has "turned a blind eye to the suffering of Texans, as his dangerous open border policies overrun border communities with a record-breaking level of migrants from over 155 countries flooding into our state."

In an email, the Texas Division of Emergency Management said the transportation costs are covered with funds allocated by the State Legislature for border security, as well as private contributions.

KERA also reached out to Wynne Transportation, an Irving-based company that’s providing the bus rides. A person who answered the phone said she was not allowed to give out any information.

The donations collected through the border fund come from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with Texas topping the list of contributions followed by Florida, California and Nevada.

In all, more than 800 Texas donors gave nearly $87,000 to the fund between mid-April and mid-August.

More than 250 donors from Florida contributed about $26,000. Slightly fewer donors in California kicked in about $19,600. Vermont had the lowest contributions — two donors gave a total of $61.10.

A few of the donors listed include the names of the companies they’re affiliated with. They include the owner of an early childhood development center in Oklahoma, an employee of a Michigan construction company, a Texas roofing company employee and a Texas pizza company executive.

Got a tip? Email Stella M. Chávez at You can follow Stella on Twitter @stellamchavez.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.