I showed up at the central New York City bus station at 6:45 a.m. not sure where I was going, not even exactly sure what I was looking for.
“Go through the glass door entrance on 8th and look at the directory or ask the information booth; be careful going up the block, there are scuzzy people on this street,” a Port Authority security officer told me when I asked where I was supposed to go to meet “a bus coming from Texas, sent by the government.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced months ago that he would begin sending migrants to Democrat-controlled “sanctuary cities” — a fitting destination for the flood of illegal immigration triggered by President Joe Biden’s lax border policy. Aside from New York City, Abbott is also sending migrants to Washington, DC, and more sanctuary cities are soon to be announced.
I walked up 41st toward 8th and passed a man sleeping on the ground under a blanket covered in grease stains and street grime — “scuzzy,” maybe, but not unusual if you’ve spent any time living in Manhattan.
Port Authority is one of the epicenters of the homelessness crisis in New York — a place locals try to avoid at all costs, worth walking a few extra blocks to your midtown destination if you can avoid the subway stop — a tragic site that has turned the Garment District surrounding it into a blight on the city.
I enter the bus station and walk up to the information kiosk, pressing my phone up to the glass to show the attendant the only information I had about what I was there to see. She looks at a photo on my screen, a zoomed-in shot of a logo on a green bus carrying a group of migrants who entered the country illegally thousands of miles away at the southern border. She had no idea what I was talking about or where any unknown and unrecognizable bus company would park.
“The only bus that comes from Texas would be Greyhound,” she said.
“This isn’t Greyhound, this says ‘Wynne.’ I think it was chartered by the Texas government,” I replied.
She stared at me blankly.
I walk back outside to the informal but probably more reliable information post: the cops tasked with surveilling the area. It’s now a few minutes to the hour when the bus is supposed to arrive.
“Hey, I’m looking for a bus from Texas.”
“Oh yeah, are you a reporter?”
He knew exactly which bus I was looking for and that it was not Greyhound.
I smirked and clenched my jaw, “Breitbart.”
Sensing my trepidation, one of the officers replied, “we love everybody.”
“Me too— basically.”
“The green bus, it’s been circling around the block, it seems like they don’t have anywhere to park. Stand somewhere near here and wait. Its moving slow, you’ll be able to follow it once you catch it.”
As I began to head toward the corner, I got a call from my colleague in Texas, Bob Price, who told me, “Gate 14, they’re getting there now.”
I sprinted into the bus station, through to the gate, where I saw a handful of people, a few holding large cameras on their shoulders. All I registered was, “this is about to blow up my spot.”
“Fox News?” I asked one woman, irritated that there was about to be a spectacle where I was hoping to lay low to follow the story.
I stepped out to bide time with nicotine and to separate myself from the entourage who might make my subjects clam up and probably also elicit hostility from city government minders I was expecting to greet our new neighbors.
When I walked through the gate door, there it was: the green “Wynne” bus. I felt a swell of enthusiasm and relief — although, I won’t write off the possibility that could have had something to do with the nicotine, one of the very few sources from which I derive true satisfaction.
All of a sudden, a new group appeared by the vehicle, all women, most seemed to be in their 60s and 70s, wearing pieces of paper over their faces, an ode to vintage public health theatre. They were obviously here to, uh, save people, save lives, be kind, or whatever — they didn’t have to tell me, it’s a vibe.
Then, people start filing out of the bus. I’m standing a few feet away, as they stream out, and the selfless-saviors-of-humanity direct them inside the building.
The Fox News crew rushes to intercept them as they exit, shoving cameras and lights in their faces, asking if anyone “habla ingles” (no).
I follow the crowd into the building, hanging back to observe what happens next.
I looked around, flashed a smile at one of the young children; I looked at him and couldn’t help feeling a tug at my heartstrings, imagining how overwhelming it must be, arriving in a foreign city after leaving home for an arduous journey. I scanned the crowd of mostly single men, a handful of kids, a few women…and apparently exactly no one from the city government to greet them, account for them, provide any information, dare I say, direct them anywhere helpful?
The volunteers handed out bags from “Save the Children” to the group and led them toward the entrance of the bus station, where they passed out burritos to the crowd of hungry wayward travelers. You couldn’t write comedy this absurd.
Biden has been a boon to left-wing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like “Save the Children” — showering them with federal contracts to facilitate illegal immigration, provide migrants with aid, and in some cases, literally fly migrants into unsuspecting American communities.
The scene was like a metaphor for the city’s response to this saga: might mean well, maybe wants to be helpful, maybe trying to be half-heartedly charitable, definitely virtue signaling, but also equally offensive and useless at the same time.
These migrants are just here now — because the ruling class declared “sanctuary city” status — but they have nowhere to go, no discernible basic skills to survive in New York, and are being handled totally inadequately in the circumstances.
I could feel frustration building at what I was witnessing as I began to realize these people were going to be stranded at this revolting bus station, with no reasonable hope of figuring out how to navigate a particularly ruthless city, which happens to already have an exploding population in need of social services and an outrageously burdensome tax onus on the rest of the population.
The people who govern this decaying metropolis invited these migrants who have no connections to the city (or in many cases, this country), without concern about any of that. This is barbarism by bureaucracy.
After the burritos were handed out, the crowd began to disperse and the volunteers started heading out of the building, some with a few migrant women following.
I saw a man, woman, and small child standing next to me, as it began to occur to all of us that they were on their own. I figured since we were all just standing around now, I would try for an interview.
I turned to the man and said, “I’m a journalist at Breitbart, is this your wife? Is this your baby? Do you want to go for breakfast?”
He stared back at me.
“Is this your family?”
Ok. I pulled out my phone and typed into Google translate: “Is this your family? Do you want to go for breakfast?” As I handed my phone to the man, the woman wandered away with the child.
Not his family, but was interested in breakfast. Fair enough.
I told him to follow me as I stepped out and hailed a cab. “70th and 2nd,” I told the driver.
We were on our way to the Upper East Side’s Beach Cafe, somewhat of a second home to me, aptly described by New York Mag as “the Republican Cheers.” The food is good and the staff are decent people, good venue to chat. If I was going to represent the first impression this new arrival would have of the city, I would make it a friendly welcome.
As the cab zipped uptown along Madison Ave and turned onto Park Ave, I typed into the app, “New York is the best city in America, one of the most interesting cities in the world. No one does anything for you, but you can always figure something out for yourself.”
He nodded as he read. He seemed to have a wave of dread come over him.
“Where are you from?” I texted.
I typed again, “what do you want to do in New York?”
“Are you ok?”
When we hit 70th and Lexington, a few blocks from our destination, the cab pulled over — there was a garbage truck inching down 70th.
“What’s your name,” I typed into the app.
“Emma,” I said, shaking the man’s hand as he looked around at this strange new world he found himself in — this was not Port Authority, and this was definitely not Venezuela.
As we headed east down 70th, we passed two men wearing construction gear, sitting on a stoop speaking Spanish.
I stopped and introduced them to Alfonzo; part of surviving in this city is learning how to be on the lookout for opportunities.
“He just got here from Venezuela via Texas, you think he can work with you,” I asked.
One of the men stood up, seeming put off by my effort to make the introduction.
“There’s a 40-hour OSHA course he needs to take. He needs ID.”
I insisted he repeat that again in Spanish, and give me his number for Alfonzo, if he needed help figuring out the course; the man begrudgingly agreed.
When we finally arrived at Beach and ordered breakfast, we got to “talking,” passing my phone back and forth.
“How long did the bus ride from Texas take?”
“Did you spend any time in Texas?”
“No, we went straight onto the bus.”
“Is this your first time in America?”
“Do you have a wife? Children? Where are they?”
“Yes. They are in Chile; I will bring them here.”
Alfonzo’s plan to send for his wife and kids later isn’t unusual. In fact, it’s common. Within months or possibly a year, it’s likely Alfonzo will be holding a job, illegally, and help pay smugglers to bring his wife and children across the U.S.-Mexico border. Under Biden’s current policies, they’ll quickly be released into the United States and, just like that, an entire family with no ties to America are now U.S. residents.
He typed to me, “are you alone?”
I raised my left hand, showed my wedding band; finally found a common language.
“How did you get here?”
“I walked and took busses through Mexico.”
“Did someone help you?”
“How did you find your way?”
“Paying people, they tell you where to go.”
“Did you interact with cartels?”
“No. The local people want fast money. You pay them to tell you how to get here.”
Eggs reach the table. We got two orders scrambled, with English muffins. Alfonzo seemed impressed with the meal.
“Why did you decide to come now? The summer is hot, especially in Texas, and the economic situation isn’t particularly good.”
“Now is a good opportunity.”
“What do you mean?”
“I couldn’t come during Trump,” he motioned his hand up and down, “wall.”
I smirked and nodded in disbelief. He smiled back. This wasn’t a cable news hit. He presumably wasn’t a Breitbart reader. It was all true. He came because of Biden.
I closed up the bill, and thought to myself, “Ok, I got a story…now what?”
Despite my political beliefs, which include supporting the wall, I felt like the only humane thing to do at this point was to try to help this guy, who, to put it lightly, was not in an ideal situation.
“How much money do you have on you?”
This is New York, you can barely get a sandwich for less than that. I raised an eyebrow but reassured him we would figure something out.
I called a few hostels on the island, but there was no warm welcome for Alfonzo in his new “sanctuary city.” One hostel hung up when I called to inquire if he could get a bed and take a shower. Another one told me sternly, “do not bring him here. We require reservations in advance, we require ID. You cannot drop him off here. I won’t accept him to stay.” So much for “humane policies,” or something.
I walked him down to a community center near the restaurant to see if they had any resources for him. “Women and children only, I can’t help him” the woman at the desk told me after she insisted Alfonzo and I put on masks, “try 3-1-1.”
As we walked out of the community center, it began to dawn on me: of all the people who live in and run this city, who say they love “diversity” and “no human is illegal,” the one person who has been the most compassionate to Alfonzo has been the Politics Editor at Breitbart News.
It’s all so fake; all the fake virtue signaling, the fake compassion, the fake welcome, the burritos, it’s all just nonsense. And then, Alfonzo shows up, with his wife and kid left in Chile, not knowing anyone here, expecting that there will be open arms and a helping hand waiting for him, but it’s all a false promise by liars who have invited him and abandoned him.
I turned to Alfonzo when we exited the community center, demoralized, black pilled, pulling the piece of paper off my face, I typed into the translator: “Where can I bring you?”
“Back to where we met. I have people I met on the bus; I will connect with them.”
I saw the entrance to the Q train and gestured to him that we would go down into the subway.
“Taxi,” he said.
“Living the high life,” I thought as I hailed a cab. I got the interview; I’ll expense it.
As the car approached closer to Port Authority, he asked for my phone number. Apprehensive, I gave in and told it to him. God knows, and he knows, I’m the only person in this country who even remotely cared if he made it by.
When the cab stopped outside, I walked him back into the bus station, shook his hand and wished him luck, and we parted ways.
I headed home, wondering how he was going to spend the rest of the day, and wondering where he would sleep; worry crept in.
About an hour later, I received a WhatsApp message from Alfonzo. It was a GIF of The Rock with his fist raised.
I texted back, copied from Google translate, “¿Estás bien?”
A notification pops up on my home screen moments later, I open it.
Pour a glass of Sauvignon to take down another black pill.
Alfonzo’s reply was a dick pic.