A dozen migrants were bused from Texas to San Jose. But who sent them?

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A dozen South American migrants, including five children, were bused from El Paso, Texas, to San Jose last weekend, according to county authorities who are working with community groups to care of the families while attempting to sort out who sent them here.

“We’re still learning the full details of their arrival and journey here,” said Aundraya Martinez, manager of the Santa Clara County Office of Immigrant Relations. “The goal now with the Rapid Response Network is to make sure the families are stabilized.”

The group’s arrival marks the latest in a series of unannounced flights and bus trips delivering migrants from the southern border to California, but Martinez and other local officials believe it is the first to Santa Clara County and the broader Bay Area.

The Biden administration’s loosening of border restrictions has led to a surge of migrants crossing the southern border and sharpened political debate over U.S. immigration policy. Republican governors in Texas, Arizona and Florida critical of the Democratic president’s policies have transported border crossers to Democrat-led cities and states where “sanctuary” policies limit cooperation with immigration enforcement.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a candidate for president, has sent migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, last fall and to Sacramento earlier this year, drawing condemnations from Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta, who launched an investigation. The attorney general’s office didn’t respond Thursday to provide updates on the investigation.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has bused migrants to Los Angeles over the summer.

But Martinez said it wasn’t immediately clear who was behind the transport of migrants to San Jose. The migrants, who come from Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador, indicated to case workers that U.S. Customs and Border Protection gave them a choice between being relocated to California and Colorado, she said.

But Roger Maier, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in El Paso, said the federal agency was not involved in transporting the migrants to San Jose. The city of El Paso denied involvement as well.

Representatives of DeSantis and Abbott did not immediately respond Thursday.

Their circumstances of the migrants’ arrival suggest it wasn’t a coordinated transfer.

Martinez said they were dropped off Saturday night at First and Alma streets in downtown San Jose, “with no other resources or information.” They eventually connected with community organizations that alerted city and county officials, she said.

“All have been connected with the services that they need so far,” Martinez said.

The adults and children are all family members, Martinez said, but she did not know their ages. They are staying in San Jose, but she said she couldn’t disclose where.

“We’re working to ensure that their privacy and safety is being respected for each of the families,” Martinez said.

The county is reaching out to consulates of Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. If they remain in the area, she said case workers would see to it that the children are enrolled in school.

With concerns mounting over unchecked border crossings, the Biden administration on Wednesday waived 26 federal laws in South Texas to allow construction of a border wall, marking the administration’s first use of sweeping executive power to pave the way for building more border barriers.

Mayor Matt Mahan’s office referred questions to the city’s Office of Racial Equity.

Zulma Maciel, director of the San Jose Office of Racial Equity, said that like other large U.S. cities, San Jose anticipated migrants would arrive here seeking refuge, either by choice or bused here by other jurisdictions. She said the city, county and community organizations developed a Welcoming Migrants Plan outlining roles each would play in the event of a migration surge.

“San Jose has always been a gateway for immigrants,” Maciel said in a statement. “The City of San Jose embraces the diversity and aims to create a welcoming environment that promotes the successful inclusion of immigrants into our community. As always, the City of San Jose will respond with care, compassion, and dignity.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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