In response to thousands of migrants arriving by bus from Arizona and Texas in the nation’s capital, Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a public health emergency. Over 7,900 migrants have been transported by Texas governor’s office to the District on more than 190 buses. More than 2,200 migrants have been bused to New York and more than 300 migrants on more than five buses to Chicago. Arizona sent 46 buses carrying 1,677 migrants to the capital.
At a press conference, Bowser announced a new government office in charge of the local response to migrants arriving which will also support newcomers seeking asylum. “We’re putting in place a framework that would allow us to have a coordinated response with our partners,” Bowser declared. “This will include a program to meet all buses, and given that most people will move on, our primary focus is to make sure we have a humane, efficient, welcome process that will allow people to move on to their final destination,” she added.
By declaring a public emergency, Mayor Bowser is given administrative authority not typically available to her office for 15 days, such as the creation of the Office of Migrant Services, said Fox 5 DC. $10 million has been allocated to the new office called the Office of Migrant Services, for which the District is seeking reimbursement from FEMA. A variety of services will be provided, including intake, meals, temporary housing, urgent medical needs, transportation, connection to resettlement services, translation assistance, and more.
According to Mayor Bowser, declaring a public emergency provides the district with more flexibility in sourcing resources to help migrants. She said she is considering emergency legislation at the DC Council to codify new services for migrants. At the southern border, migrants seeking asylum in the United States begin their journey toward asylum. A date is set for them to appear in immigration court once they have been cleared through a federal immigration process. Then, some states offered them free rides.
Mayor Bowser declared, “Some people are taking this ride to get to their destinations along the way because it gets them closer to their final destination. And some, because they have nowhere else to go and, quite frankly, I believe that some are being tricked or lied to.” Defense Department officials have twice denied Bowser’s request to use the National Guard to help with the influx of migrants in the district. FOX 5 has inquired of Mayor Bowser as to why a response like this was not initiated earlier.
“We think we’re actually taking it at the right time,” says Mayor Bowser. She continued, “We have responded in a lot of different stages not knowing the full capacity of what we would be dealing with day-to-day or month-to-month. So, we thought it was very appropriate that we worked with our partner organizations who are very experienced in this work, who have done migrant services work, to work with them…The volume of the work and our expectation that that could increase really necessitates a broader coordination from us.”