Texas governor expands migrant busing campaign to include Philadelphia
(File) By The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia and Pittsburgh aren’t the only cities where U.S. governors are seeking to expand their own immigrant busing programs — they could soon be joined by two of the nation’s most populous cities in Philadelphia, Ohio and Nevada.
And, like other states, the expansion to cities could be fueled by a new federal immigrant busing law that became law last month.
“We understand every community is different,” Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin wrote in a letter to Fallin’s colleagues, announcing the expansion of the busing programs in her own state. “Given the variety of our states, a local approach provides a great deal of flexibility, while ensuring our most vulnerable residents are not sent to a place they might not be able to escape or to be welcomed when they arrive.”
The new federal law is expected to bring in $2 billion for the states and cities that run the programs each year on the basis of the federal government paying 40 percent of the tab.
Oklahoma’s program is the first to be funded by the new law, and Fallin hopes it will inspire other states to expand the programs to provide a level of certainty in the current immigration policy.
Pennsylvania is the only state that is participating in the federal program. Nevada has been working on the program for the past year, and Ohio officials are expected to soon start talks with the federal government to implement the program at their state.
Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico are the three states that have been most active in the federal law, and they are all planning to expand their own programs.
Pennsylvania, which is in the throes of a massive government overhaul, is a prime candidate. The state slashed its funding for the federal buses program and gave the money back to the state last year. In addition, the state has made a long-term commitment to expand its busing program.
The new law calls for a state to cover 40 percent of the tab for the federal programs, and that has put the pressure on Pennsylvania to get the program up and running.