By Lolita C. Baldor | The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon rejected a request from the District of Columbia, in which the mayor called for the National Guard’s assistance for a “growing humanitarian crisis” that prompted thousands of migrants from two southern states to bus from the city. it was done.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin refused to provide Guard personnel and the use of the DC Armory to aid in welcoming migrants into the city, according to US defense officials. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that the district could send a revised, “more specific” request, adding that he believes it is the first time a DC request for the National Guard has been denied. .
An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the decision not yet made public, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s food and shelter program provided funding for the problem, and indicated That those funds are sufficient at this point.
The district’s Democratic mayor, Bowser, formally asked the White House last month for an open-ended deployment of 150 National Guard members per day as well as a “suitable federal space” for a mass housing and processing center, including the DC Armory. was mentioned. Logical candidate.
During the spring, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, both Republicans, planned to send busloads of migrants to Washington, D.C. in response to President Joe Biden’s decision to lift a pandemic-era emergency health order. announced, which restricted the expatriate. entry number by denying them a chance to take refuge. This rule remains in force under the order of the court.
On Friday, Abbott said the first group of migrants from his state had now also been bused to New York.
By mid-July, about 5,200 migrants had been deported from Texas to DC since April. As of August 3, more than 1,300 had been dispatched from Arizona since May. The governor calls this practice a voluntary free ride – paid for by state taxpayers – that moves migrants closer to family or support networks.
But Bowser dismissed that characterization last month, saying asylum seekers are being “betrayed” because many are unable to get close to their final destinations, and some near the US Capitol and the White House. Left at Union Station. Often they arrive with no resources and no clue what to do next.
On Friday, Bowser told reporters that the Pentagon appears to be “concerned” about the open nature of our request. And that a more specialized one would help.
“We want to continue working with the Defense Department to understand our operational needs and ensure that political considerations are not part of their decision,” Bowser said. He said he believes the “crisis” will only get worse. “We need the National Guard. If we were a state, I would have already done it.
A coalition of local charitable groups working to feed and shelter migrants has received a $1 million grant from FEMA. But organizers warned that both their resources and staff were close to being exhausted.
“This reliance on NGOs is not working and not sustainable – they are overwhelmed and undervalued,” Bowser said in his letter. She has said repeatedly that the influx is stressing her government’s ability to care for its homeless residents and that a federal response is now needed.
Bowser sharply criticized Abbott and Ducey, accusing them of “brutal political sportsmanship” and said the pair “decided to use desperate people to score political points.”
Describing his decision to add New York City as a destination, Abbott said Biden’s “refusal to acknowledge the crisis caused by his open border policies” had given Texas “an unprecedented effort to keep our communities safe.” forced to act.”
He said the migrants are being dropped off at the Port Authority bus terminal.
“In addition to Washington, D.C., New York City is the ideal destination for these migrants, who can receive the abundance of city services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams has claimed within the Sanctuary City,” Abbott said.
In response, Adams spokesman Fabian Levy tweeted that Abbott’s “continued use of humans as political pawns is abhorrent. NYC will continue to welcome asylum seekers with open arms, as we have always done, but we have to now.” Also requires support from DC.
As mayor of D.C., Bowser does not have the authority to personally order the deployment of the National Guard, an issue that has become emotionally charged in recent years as a symbol of the district’s strong status as less than a state. It is done.
Her limited authority played a role in the January 6, 2021 uprising at the US Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. When it became clear that the Capitol Police were unmatched by the crowd, Bowser could not immediately deploy the District Guard. Instead, significant time was lost while considering the request inside the Pentagon, and protesters ransacked the building.
Associated Press writers Ashraf Khalil in Washington, Karen Matthews in New York City and Bob Christie in Phoenix contributed to this report.