Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference at the Texas State Capitol on June 8, 2023 in Austin.
CNN  — 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that some migrants in the state have been sent by bus to Los Angeles and arrived on Wednesday evening, marking the state’s latest push against federal border immigration policies that has been decried by critics as a stunt.

When the group of 42 migrants arrived in Los Angeles after leaving the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas on Tuesday, several nonprofit organizations ensured volunteers were present.

The migrants, whose bus trip was some 1,500 miles, included 13 children as passengers, according to the nonprofit Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.

“All of these individuals have arrived to Los Angeles from Texas. I also want to note that it’s adults, but it’s a lot of children, too,” said Angelica Salas, who heads the coalition. “We always have to understand the vulnerability of these individuals, these persons as human beings, who many times have gone through many, many countries to finally get here and who also have dealt with severe trauma. So, we want to be respectful of their individual situation.”

Jorge-Mario Cabrera, a spokesperson for the coalition, said the children’s ages could be between 2 and 9.

“People told me they have been on the bus for 23 hours without food or water – that’s how horrible this is,” Cabrera said.

The migrants’ arrival was announced by Abbott on Wednesday.

“Texas’ small border towns remain overwhelmed and overrun by the thousands of people illegally crossing into Texas from Mexico because of President Biden’s refusal to secure the border,” Abbott said. “Our border communities are on the frontlines of President Biden’s border crisis, and Texas will continue providing this much-needed relief until he steps up to do his job and secure the border.”

The city of Los Angeles learned of the group’s trip while the bus was en route, and nonprofit groups met them at the station, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said. The city plans to continue collaborating with nonprofits as well as their county, state and federal partners on helping the group.

“It is abhorrent that an American elected official is using human beings as pawns in his cheap political games,” she said. “This did not catch us off guard, nor will it intimidate us.”

The migrants arrived less than a week after the Los Angeles City Council voted June 9 to draft a “sanctuary city” policy, which could eventually become municipal law. The term “sanctuary city” often refers to areas in the US that have policies or protocols to limit cooperation with or involvement in federal immigration enforcement actions.

Daniel Lopez, who serves as a spokesperson for California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office, echoed that local officials and community partners are working to ensure the migrants’ safety.

“Contrary to what some may want to think – California is also a border state but instead of demonizing asylum seekers, we focus on working with local communities to support and humanely welcome people,” Lopez told CNN.

Last year, Abbott had officials send migrants on two buses to Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington, DC, on Christmas Eve in frigid temperatures.

And since last spring, more than 50,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York City, some of them bused to New York and other more liberal northeastern towns and cities by Republican governors and local officials from southern states.

Nonprofits respond to migrants’ arrival

Immigration lawyers in Los Angeles have been meeting with migrants individually to discuss their asylum process, while others are being reunited with their families, according to Jorge Mario Cabrera, director of communications with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA).

“The initial effort was to make sure that they rested, that they ate a bit, that they took showers and that they initially met with an attorney to show them what kind of papers they were carrying,” Cabrera said.

One migrant who Cabrera said he personally spoke with has an immigration interview in New York and needed to be in that state soon.

“He said, ‘I don’t know how to read. I don’t know what this paper says. All I know is that they told me I need to be somewhere in New York. Is that nearby?’ And I said no,” Cabrera said.

The non-profit has already helped some get on their way to other states to continue their immigration process.

The Haitian Bridge Alliance was one of the nonprofits present when the migrants arrived to Los Angeles, according to Daniel Tse, who serves as the group’s asylum taskforce coordinator.

“We coordinated with the city (of Los Angeles) and the mayor’s office to make sure these individuals were greeted with dignity and to make sure they received the assistance that they needed,” Tse said.

HBA is currently assisting six Haitians, including a family of three, two adult cousins and one single adult, who are exhausted from the long journey by bus, Tse said.

The group is trying to provide transportation and transitional assistance while the migrants meet up with their sponsors, Tse said.

“We are not driven by or aligned with the political motives behind Abbott’s busing campaign,” Tse said. “However, we and our partners, along with other migrant advocates, acknowledge the practicality and importance of providing transportation to those in need, including the use of buses. Our goal is to ensure that these initiatives are carried out in a more coordinated and compassionate manner, avoiding the dehumanization of individuals for political gain.”

Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director at Immigrant Defenders Law Center, told reporters of asylum seekers, “They’re coming with the hope that they can keep themselves and their children safe. And so instead of treating them as political props, here in Los Angeles, we will treat them with the dignity that they deserve as human beings.”

Another group that assisted is the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.

“The State of Texas offered transportation to Los Angeles. Through coordination, we made sure that the families wanting to go to Los Angeles would have someone that would meet them and provide a place to stay,” said Sister Norma Pimentel, who heads the nonprofit.

CHIRLA is still trying to figure out if all the migrants knew that they were going to Los Angeles.

The non-profit found out about the bus traveling from Texas to California on Tuesday night and said that while they only had a 24-hour notice, they had been preparing for a scenario like this one for months.

“We’ve been ready,” Cabrera said. “Every time someone tells us, every time we hear a rumor that there will be a bus, we mobilize.”

CNN’s Camila Bernal, Cheri Mossburg, Norma Galeana, Isabel Rosales and Jaide Garcia contributed to this report.