Venezuelan Is Grateful Texas Governor Bussed Him to Opportunities in Washington, D.C.

(p. A1) When Lever Alejos of Venezuela arrived at the southern border penniless in July [2022], he gladly accepted a free bus ride to Washington, D.C., courtesy of the state of Texas. He had no family or friends to receive him, and spent one night in the plaza across from Union Station. He soon settled into a homeless shelter.

“I have nothing,” Mr. Alejos, 29, said on his third day in the city, “but I have the will to work and succeed.”

Two months later, Mr. Alejos is making between $600 to $700 a week, saving up to buy a used car and planning to move out of the shelter.

“There is so much opportunity here,” he said on Thursday [Sept. 15, 2022], at the end of a day’s work. “You just have to take advantage of it.”

Since April [2022], thousands of migrants, most of them Venezuelans, have been coaxed onto buses and planes heading to Washington, New York, Chicago and, last week, Martha’s Vineyard after enduring a perilous journey over land from their broken country to make a fresh start in the United States.

. . .

(p. A16) Democrats have called the stunts cruel, and many migrants have been left at least temporarily homeless as their new host cities scramble to help them.

But others, like Mr. Alejos, have called the free transportation a blessing. They are already employed and achieving some measure of stability. They have found jobs in construction, hospitality, retail, trucking and other sectors facing worker shortages in an economy still recovering from the impact of the pandemic.

“In most big cities, including the ones where governors are shipping migrants, employers are scrambling to find workers,” said Chris Tilly, a labor economist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “They are meeting a need.”

. . .

For himself, Mr. Alejos has acquired a new cellphone and ear buds, shirts and trousers, and shoes. “I try to keep my priorities straight,” he said. “I’m not splurging. I am trying to build an emergency fund.”

In three weeks, he hopes to buy a 2012 Honda Civic.

His only regret is that his schedule does not allow him to attend in-person English classes. But he has found a way to teach himself, the Duolingo language-learning app — and then he tries to practice with customers.

. . .

In his free time, Mr. Alejos explores his adopted city with fellow Venezuelans, visiting the Natural History Museum, the Zoo, Chinatown and the Capitol.

“I always try to see something new on my days off,’’ he said, and often during the outings he posts selfies on Facebook.

He misses his family, he said. But he is philosophical about his circumstances.

“Often you have to suffer to be compensated down the road,” he said.

. . .

“I feel fortunate the governor put me on a bus to Washington,” Mr. Alejos said. “It opened up doors for me.”

For the full story, see:

Miriam Jordan. “Bus Ticket Out of Texas Was a Ticket to Stability.” The New York Times (Monday, September 19, 2022): A1 & A16.

[Note: ellipses, bracketed years, and bracketed date, added.]

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Sept. 18, 2022, and has the title “After Texas Sent Him to Washington, One Migrant Launches a New Life.”)

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