A state government table obtained by CNN through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that through Aug. 9, Texas had paid $12,707,720.92 to Wynne Transportation, the charter service that transports migrants into the two cities brings.
Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN on Tuesday. In a press release Friday, Abbott’s office said that “the bus mission is providing much-needed assistance to our overwhelmed border communities.”
It is usually the responsibility of released migrants to cover the cost of their transit through the US as their asylum cases are pending in court. However, the state-chartered border buses have been offering free trips to asylum seekers heading north for months.
Texas has asked for private donations to help cover the cost of the bus rides, but the state had only received $167,828 as of Aug. 17. At a press conference in April announcing the program, Abbott acknowledged that taxpayers would likely get a portion of the bill.
“Because (President) Joe Biden is not securing the border, the state of Texas has to step up and spend Texas taxpayers’ money to do the federal government’s job,” the governor said at the time.
State authorities have provided conflicting figures on the exact number of migrants that Texas has bused out of the state, ranging from 8,051 to 9,033. That equates to a cost of at least $1,400 per migrant to be transported.
A harsh critic of Biden’s immigration policies, Abbott began sending hundreds of willing migrants on buses to Washington, DC, earlier this year as an affront to the government. Abbott’s office said that “in order to board a bus or plane, a migrant must volunteer for transportation and provide documentation from DHS.”
But Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN last week that Abbott’s efforts are throwing the federal migrant processing system “off balance,” and has criticized the governor for not coordinating with federal agencies. Mayorkas said it was “problematic” when an official like Abbott worked “unilaterally”.
“This lack of coordination causes problems in our very efficient processing,” he said.
This story was updated Tuesday with additional information.
CNN’s Paul LeBlanc and Zenebou Sylla contributed to this report.