Despite the city’s reputation for rough edges, rowdy sports fans, and blunt talk, Philadelphians are capable of showing a profound ability to welcome others, no matter where they come from.

Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he had sent a bus filled with asylum-seekers to Philadelphia. The Republican blames the nation’s sanctuary cities — places such as Philadelphia, which decline to enforce federal immigration law — for the large movements of people who brave the long and harrowing journey to the border.

This is only the most recent in a series of cruel political stunts that Republican governors have pulled at the expense of vulnerable people. Abbott has led the way, sending more than 13,000 migrants and asylum-seekers to Washington, New York City, and Chicago. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has followed Texas’s lead, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tried to outdo them both by flying asylum-seekers to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Stymieing Abbott’s cruel intentions, Philadelphians responded with compassion, empathy, and warmth.

City officials greeted the bus upon arrival at William H. Gray III 30th Street Station. The asylum-seekers on board, some of whom have never experienced our chilly November weather, were given food, winter coats, and a warm and comfortable place to stay. Stateside relatives were contacted. The city’s Office of Immigrant Affairs has identified several local organizations that are dedicated to helping new Philadelphians acclimate to the city and access the resources they need.

It is true that the number of people seeking refuge has reached unprecedented levels — spurred by the effects of the pandemic, the impact of climate change, increased violence, and authoritarian governments. But instead of holding out their hand in welcome and allowing the legal asylum process to play out, these Republican governors seem to view immigrants as a threat and a burden.


Fortunately, Philadelphians know the truth. After all, we are a city of immigrants — built over successive generations by new arrivals from England, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, China, Latin America, Africa, and the Caribbean.

Far from being a burden, immigrants are one of our city’s greatest assets. Immigrants are a pillar of our workforce — building homes, revitalizing commercial corridors, powering the hospitality industry, and helping to construct the tech titans of tomorrow.

Immigrants strengthen our numbers and make our city a more resilient place. More than 14% of Philadelphians are foreign-born, and those who have newly settled here have helped drive the city’s population growth over the last two decades. In 2019, immigrants in Pennsylvania paid almost $10 billion in taxes.

And the way we treat immigrants is also a reflection of our collective values — beyond any fiscal or economic benefits. Welcoming newcomers is about refuting the fear and bigotry that drives much of the opposition to lifting a lamp beside the golden door.

In his statement about the Philly-bound bus, Abbott continued to spread dangerous anti-immigrant rhetoric, claiming Texas is defending against “an invasion along the border.” That’s the same kind of language that led a gunman to massacre 23 people, mostly Latinos, at an El Paso Walmart in 2019.

When Donald Trump announced his first run for the presidency, he cited bogus assumptions about immigrant criminality, while Fox News host Tucker Carlson broadcasts outlandish claims about a supposed conspiracy to “replace” white people.


For weeks before November’s midterm elections, Pennsylvanians were bombarded with hateful messages from a group called Citizens for Sanity, which sought to cast immigrants as the source of America’s social ills and a threat to public safety.

Philadelphians should be proud that city leaders and other local elected officials have soundly rejected these hateful notions, just like the city’s voters did at the ballot box last week.

For those who would like to do more to help families seeking asylum, the city has put together a resource guide and is accepting donations to the Philadelphia Welcoming Fund.

The city’s welcoming response may yet be tested. New York City has been challenged by the need to offer shelter to thousands of immigrants, many of them from Venezuela, who lack the traditional support networks and awaiting jobs that greeted countless others.

Ultimately, immigration reform and a robust asylum system are the answer to ending the political gamesmanship. Responsibilities that Congress continues to avoid at the expense of those in a parlous state who are searching for safety and economic security.

Abbott may have wanted to punish Philadelphians with his reckless stunt. For now, he helped showcase the city’s motto and the core value that binds our community of immigrants, whether their roots here stretch back centuries or only a matter of hours: Philadelphia Maneto — “Let brotherly love endure.”

Editorial by the Philadelphia Inquirer

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