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Thursday, December 08, 2022

Pentagon turns down DC’s request to help migrants

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The Pentagon has rejected a request from Washington, D.C., to send thousands of migrants from two southern states to the capital in what the mayor has called a “humanitarian crisis” for the National Guard to provide aid. The request has been rejected. ,

Defense officials said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin refused to use National Guard personnel and DC armory facilities to receive migrants in the capital. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that the city may submit a revised, “more specific” request, saying he believes it is the first time the National Guard has refused a request for assistance from the District of Columbia. has given.

An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an unannounced decision, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) food and shelter program provided funding to tackle the problem and indicated That those funds are sufficient at this time.

Bowser formally asked the White House last month for an indefinite contingent of 150 National Guard troops per day, as well as a “suitable federal location” for a housing and processing center, with the DC Armory Stadium and Arsenal as logical candidates. quoted in.

The crisis began earlier this year, when Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced plans to send migrants to Washington in response to President Joe Biden’s decision to lift a pandemic, which allowed them to apply. Restricted the number of migrant entries by denying the possibility. hospital. This rule remains in force by order of the court.

Abbott said on Friday that the first batch of migrants from his state had also left for New York.

From April to mid-July, some 5,200 immigrants were moved from Texas to Washington. And from May to August 3, more than 1,300 were shipped from Arizona. The governor calls the practice a voluntary free ride – paid for by state taxpayers – that brings migrants closer to family or support networks.

But Bowser dismissed that characterization, saying asylum seekers are being “betrayed” because many fail to get close to their final destinations and some at Union Station near the US Capitol and the White House. is thrown. Many of them come without resources and have no idea what to do.

Bowser told reporters Friday that the Pentagon appeared to be concerned “by the open nature of our request” and that a more specific request would help.

“We want to continue working with the Defense Department to understand their 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.

With $1 million in aid from FEMA, a coalition of local charities is working to provide food and homes for migrants. But organizers have warned that there is going to be a shortage of their resources and staff.

“This reliance on nonprofits is broken and not sustainable: they are overwhelmed and under-resourced,” Bowser said in his letter. The mayor has repeatedly said that the influx is hurting his government’s ability to serve its homeless and now requires a federal response.

Bowser accused Abbott and Ducey of doing “brutal politics” and said that both “decided to use desperate people to gain 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 take action”.

He said that the migrant port authorities are reaching the bus terminal.

“In addition to Washington, D.C., New York City is the ideal destination for these migrants, who can receive the abundant urban services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams claimed within the Sanctuary City,” Abbott said.

In response, Fabian Levy, a spokesman for Adams, tweeted that Abbott’s “continued use of humans as political pawns is abhorrent. New York will continue to welcome asylum seekers with open arms, as we always have,” But we continue to need Washington’s support.”

As mayor of Washington, Bowser does not have authority to order the deployment of the National Guard.

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Associated Press writers Ashraf Khalil in Washington, Karen Matthews in New York and Bob Christie in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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