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How much has the migrant crisis cost US states thus far

(NewsNation) — Since the unprecedented surge in migration, states across the U.S. have collectively spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to transport migrants elsewhere, revealing the escalating challenges faced at every level of government. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott spearheaded an aggressive approach, deploying state law enforcement and National Guard troops to patrol the border.  

As of mid-November, over 66,000 migrants and asylum seekers have been bused across the country, costing the state $86.1 million between April 2022 and October 2023, averaging approximately $1,650 per person, Axios reported. 

Following suit, Florida allocated a $12 million budget for migrant transportation, drawing attention to Governor Ron DeSantis’ decision to fly newcomers to Martha’s Vineyard and later to Sacramento, sparking legal challenges. 

The trend is not limited to red-state governors, as Democratic leaders in various states and cities implement their own migrant transportation programs.  

New York City invested millions in a “re-ticketing program,” offering free bus and plane tickets to migrants and asylum seekers to reach their final destinations. The program has gained such popularity that the city recently established a dedicated central site for its administration. 

In April, New York City officials said caring for migrants has cost the Big Apple more than $800 million so far, but they believe the cost could reach more than $4 billion by next summer. A new migrant shelter is estimated to cost New York taxpayers $20 million per month to maintain the shelter’s operations. 

Arizona’s Democratic governor spent approximately $5.7 million transporting nearly 27,000 asylum seekers within and out of the state.  

Denver allocated nearly $4.3 million for migrant transportation, with frequent requests from cities like New York, Chicago, and Salt Lake City.  

Meanwhile, Catholic Charities in Chicago used city funds to purchase tickets for 2,500 migrants traveling to other towns, Axios reported. 

According to a Freedom of Information Act request obtained by NewsNation’s affiliate WGN, a whopping $84.5 million has already been paid since the first buses began arriving from Texas in Chicago. According to city officials, $51 million in taxpayer money was allocated to the migrant crisis in May, which accounts for about 38% of what’s being spent, while the remaining 62% of the balance is coming from federal grants. 

In response to the influx, San Diego County committed $3 million in stopgap funds for a temporary welcome center, and El Paso, Texas, dedicated $3.8 million to build its first permanent shelter for migrants.

However, beyond the transportation costs, a series of lawsuits loom over the practice, potentially adding more financial strain.  

Florida faces legal challenges for relocating migrants and passing a law criminalizing the transportation of migrants who illegally crossed the border into the state.  

Texas is under investigation for its treatment of migrants moved out of state, potentially facing legal action from Los Angeles. 

As the U.S. grapples with historic levels of migration, federal immigration agencies are running out of funds, prompting the White House to urge Congress for emergency billions.  

Democratic cities are also seeking federal dollars to bolster their shelter systems, while destination cities like Chicago and New York are imposing time limits on stays to accommodate new arrivals. 

The situation at the southern border remains critical, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection reporting over 240,000 encounters in October alone and nearly 2.5 million encounters between October 2022 and September 2023. 

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