Buses of migrants boarding trains from NJ to NYC officials say

It follows a crackdown by New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

Buses of migrants have arrived at train station stops in various parts of New Jersey, state and local officials said, an apparent response and workaround to New York City’s executive order limiting an influx of migrants.

Details of the drop offs remain unclear, although Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s office said that migrants were taking the train to New York City.

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Leaders of blue states and cities have grappled with thousands of migrants sent to their municipalities from the southern border in recent months. Nowhere has it been more focused than New York City.

“Our Administration has tracked the recent arrival of a handful buses of migrant families at various NJ TRANSIT train stations,” Murphy spokesperson Tyler Jones said in a statement to POLITICO. “New Jersey is primarily being used as a transit point for these families — all or nearly all of them continued with their travels en route to their final destination of New York City. We are closely coordinating with our federal and local partners on this matter, including our colleagues across the Hudson.”

Local officials in Secaucus and Fanwood said migrants were sent via bus to their municipalities’ train stations. Trenton’s mayor, Reed Gusciora, said in an interview that NJ Transit officials informed his city of buses of people arriving at Trenton’s train station stop, although he said it was unclear if it was migrants.

“This is clearly going to be a statewide conversation so important that we wait for some guidance from the Governor here on next steps as busses continue,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who is running for governor in 2025, wrote in a now-deleted post on social media.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently issued an executive order limiting when buses of migrants can come into the city and requiring advanced notice. In a statement, Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli, who claimed that migrants bused to his train station and took the train to New York City, said the train station stops were a way to circumvent Adams’ executive order. He estimated four buses of migrants arrived Saturday morning.

“It seems quite clear the bus operators are finding a way to thwart the requirements of the [New York City] Executive Order by dropping migrants at the train station in Secaucus and having them continue to their final destination” Gonnelli said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Adams’ office — without directly mentioning New Jersey — said in a statement to POLITICO on Sunday evening that dropping migrants off at train stations was a workaround to the recent executive order.

“Texas Governor Greg Abbott continues to treat asylum seekers like political pawns, and is instead now dropping families off in surrounding cities and states in the cold, dark of night with train tickets to travel to New York City, just like he has been doing in Chicago in response to their similar executive order,” Adams spokesperson Fabien Levy said in a statement. “This is exactly why we have been coordinating with surrounding cities and counties since before issuing our order to encourage them to take similar executive action to protect migrants against this cruelty.”

It isn’t New Jersey’s first instance dealing with the migrant crisis this year. Media reports from the fall suggested a South Jersey airport as a possible location for migrants to relocate from New York City, although the proposal never materialized. The proposal, however, was strongly opposed by Democrats and Republicans in the region. Murphy, who once said he would make New Jersey a “sanctuary state,” said at the time the state didn’t have the resources to take migrants at the airport.

It is unclear what, if anything, comes next. Gonnelli said that State Police received reports of buses arriving in other municipalities. New Jersey State Police declined to comment. NJ Transit referred questions to the governor’s office.

In an email to POLITICO, Fanwood police director Michael Bramhall said that his department received an email from NJ Transit police just after midnight on Sunday that a “single charter bus of migrants had been dropped off at the Fanwood Train Station.” By the time local police showed up to the scene, the group, which he said was “unknown in size and make up,” had boarded NJ Transit trains headed to Newark Penn Station. Bramhall said it is unclear where the bus came from.

Newark had not received any request for services as of Sunday night, according to a spokesperson.

Guscoria said Sunday that NJ Transit told police in Trenton that there were buses of people at the city train station stop, but he said it was unclear to him if they actually contained migrants.

“I did receive confirmation from our police director that there were a couple of buses at NJ Transit but most of the people transferred to trains,” he said.

A prominent immigrant rights group in the state on Sunday called for New Jersey state government to “step up” to take care of migrants.

“As the federal government uses migrants as political pawns — threatening to end asylum and expand deportations over the past few weeks — this is an opportunity for New Jersey to stand up and continue its rich history of welcoming migrants,” Sara Cullinane, state director of Make the Road New Jersey, said in a statement. “We are a state of immigrants and we must continue to be a beacon for those fleeing violence in search of a better life.”