The mayor of Washington D.C. on Thursday declared a public emergency to deal with the busloads of illegal immigrants that have been bused into the District from Texas and Arizona. Between the two border states, approximately 9,400 migrants have reportedly been bused to D.C. since April. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey have both vowed to continue and even expand busing operations indefinitely.
The public emergency will direct the Director of the Department of Human Services to provide temporary services and supports to migrants arriving from southern border states.
It also authorizes the City Administrator and agency directors to establish new programs and expand or modify existing programs in response to the emergency.
Declaring a public emergency grants Mayor Bowser administrative authority not typically held by her office for 15 days, such as creating the Office of Migrant Services.
During a press conference, Mayor Muriel Bowser said she will be submitting a request to the D.C. Council to extend the emergency after 15 days.
Last spring, Abbott announced his plan to charter buses and ship migrants to the sanctuary city, Washington D.C.
“To help local officials – because communities are being overwhelmed by hordes of illegal immigrants who are being dropped off by the Biden Administration – Texas is providing charter buses for these illegal immigrants who have been dropped off to Washington, D.C.,” the Republican governor said during a press conference on April 6.
“We are sending them to the United States capital where the Biden administration will be able to more immediately address the needs of the people that they are allowing to come across our border,” he added.
Governor Ducey began busing migrants from Arizona to D.C. in May, quietly mirroring the Texas program.
The thousands of new residents have added to Washington’s diversity, but have left city officials scrambling to handle their many needs. Bowser announced the creation of a new Office of Migrant Services to assist with the influx of illegal immigrants.
The new office will be called the Office of Migrant Services and $10 million has been allocated for it with the District seeking reimbursement from FEMA. It will provide support with the reception of migrants, meals, temporary accommodations, urgent medical needs, transportation, connection to resettlement services, translation services and more.
The District is putting in place a framework to meet all buses and facilitate onward travel for those who plan to move on from D.C.
“Some people are taking this ride to get to their destinations along the way because it gets them closer to their final destination,” Bowser said. “And some, because they have nowhere else to go and, quite frankly, I believe that some are being tricked or lied to.”
The mayor’s request for the National Guard to assist with the influx of migrants was denied twice by the Department of Defense. Activists protested Bowser’s request for National Guard assistance in July.
— Anna-Lysa Gayle (@AnnaLysaGayle) July 29, 2022
During the press conference Thursday, D.C. City Council Member Brianne K. Nadeau blamed Abbott and Ducey for creating the “crisis.” Nadeau complained that the Republican governors have turned the nation’s capital into a border town.
“It’s been said, but it’s worth reiterating that the governors of Texas and Arizona have created this crisis, and the federal government has not stepped up to assist the District of Columbia,” Nadeau fretted during the press conference on Thursday, adding that “in may ways, Texas and Arizona have turned us into a border town.”
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) September 8, 2022
Bowser and Nadeau have both long been vocal proponents of making the Capital a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants.
“The District is a sanctuary city, which means our law enforcement does not cooperate with ICE,” Nadeau said in an official statement in June of 2019. “The Metropolitan Police Department’s policy is that it will not enforce civil immigration laws, which only create a strong divide between the police and community members. MPD officers are also prohibited from asking about residency and immigration status.”
Just days after Donald J. Trump was elected president, Bowser on November 14, 2016 issued the following statement:
“The values, laws, and policies of Washington, DC did not change on Election Day. We celebrate our diversity and respect all DC residents no matter their immigration status. We are a sanctuary city because we know that our neighborhoods are safer and stronger when no one is afraid to call on our government for help, and when our police can focus on protecting and serving.”
The governors of Arizona and Texas appear to have taken the Democrats at their words.