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'It's a gimmick': Abbott plan to bus illegal immigrants to D.C. slammed for being voluntary

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Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott grabbed headlines Wednesday by promising to put illegal immigrants on charter buses and send them to Washington, D.C., in response to the Biden administration rescinding Title 42. At a press conference announcing this "unprecedented" step, the Republican governor painted a picture of Texas National Guard soldiers being sent to the border in riot gear to herd migrants onto these buses, which outraged migrant and open-borders advocates.

Many conservatives and border hawks cheered Abbott's actions, but new details of the plan released by the governor's office once the TV cameras were put away show his order is much less impactful than it would at first appear.

Specifically, a press release from Abbott clarifies that the trip to D.C. will be voluntary for illegal immigrants.

"Governor Abbott has directed [the Texas Division of Emergency Management] to charter buses and flights to transport migrants who have been processed and released from federal custody to Washington, D.C.," the release states.

"To board a bus or flight, a migrant must volunteer to be transported and show documentation from DHS," the governor's office said.

To voluntarily go to D.C., illegal immigrants will have to show documentation that they've already been processed by DHS

These details about Abbott's plan led critics on both the right and the left to accuse the governor of pulling a political stunt for his reelection campaign.

"It's a gimmick," said Republican state Rep. Matt Schaefer in a tweet.

BlazeTV host Chad Prather, who unsuccessfully challenged Abbott in the Texas GOP gubernatorial primary, filmed a video from his truck and joked that he was driving down to the border to see how many illegal immigrants would volunteer to hop in and take a trip to D.C.

"Of course, they've got to volunteer to do it. I'm just providing the transportation, isn't that what Abbott said? Yeah, big government shill. Campaign stunt. And actually, it sucks. Do better, Greg Abbott!" he said.

Michael Quinn Sullivan, a conservative activist with Texas Scorecard, called Abbott's action a "stunt."

"An optional bus ride to DC is not real," he tweeted.

Over on the left, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, Abbott's Democratic opponent for governor, said the governor was all talk and no substance.

"If Abbott focused on solutions instead of stunts, then Texas could have made some real progress on the issue over the last seven years," he said in a statement.

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