Los Angeles Shows How to Prepare for a Crisis

Thom Weidlich 06.22.23


Last week, Los Angeles was faced with a potential crisis when Texas bused a group of Latin American migrants from that state to the City of Angels. But the city practiced good crisis response and communications by simply being prepared.

Leaving aside the politics of the issue, L.A. was smart to observe this happening to other places and prepare for it. Last year, Texas and Florida started busing asylum seekers from border states to Democratic states and so-called sanctuary cities, arguing they’re overwhelmed with migrants.

Texas has sent at least hundreds to Chicago and, in a high-profile example last fall, Florida flew 49 Venezuelans to vacation spot Martha’s Vineyard, which was unprepared and had to scramble. Earlier this month Florida arranged for groups of migrants to be flown to Sacramento. So, there were precedents to observe. Also, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the Los Angeles move.

Union Station

Forty-two people, including eight children, were put on a bus in McAllen, Texas, and were driven 23 hours without food. They were dropped off at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, June 14.

In a statement that day, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said that when she came into office in December she told city departments to plan to take in migrants from out of state.

“This did not catch us off guard,” Bass said. “Now, it’s time to execute our plan. Our emergency management, police, fire and other departments were able to find out about the incoming arrival while the bus was on its way and were already mobilized along with nonprofit partners before the bus arrived.”

Corporate Crises

In other words, the mayor identified a potential crisis and prepared for it. There’s a parallel in corporate crises. It’s good practice to study the negative situations your competitors go through. What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? One thing not to do: convince yourself it couldn’t happen to you.

Once in L.A., the new arrivals were fed and given shelter and an opportunity to talk to lawyers at a nearby church. “People needing short-term shelter were to be accommodated by the city’s Recreation and Parks Department,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

As for communications, the mayor disseminated timely and accurate information to stakeholders, the media and the public to keep them updated. When the migrants arrived, a press conference was held at the church. Several officials, including at least two City Council members, put out statements, mostly blasting what they view as the cruelty of sending asylum seekers to other states.

Immigration Appointment

Jorge-Mario Cabrera, director of communications for immigrant-rights organization CHIRLA (the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights-Los Angeles), was at Union Station to greet the group — and talk to reporters. He told the L.A. Times that one person had an immigration appointment in New York.

“That’s where the cruelty of this process is unbounded,” he said, according to the Times. “That’s why Los Angeles made sure that we were coordinated and prepared to deal with the human beings behind this political charade.”

All the preparation helped mitigate what could have been a difficult crisis. It’s good crisis response for others to emulate.

Photo Credit: Eddie J. Rodriquez/Shutterstock

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