District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser recently announced the creation of the Office of Migrant Services and pledged $10 million in funding to help the city assist with the arrival of thousands of migrants from Texas and Arizona by Governor Greg Abbott, R-Texas and Doug Ducey, R-Ariz.
This comes after Bowser issued a state of emergency and two denials from the Department of Defense to deploy the National Guard for the District following what she calls on her website a “political stunt meant to get the attention of the White House” from Govs. Abbott and Ducey.
Since April, the governors have bused over 10,000 people from countries like Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela to the District, Martha’s Vineyard, New York City and Chicago. Abbot said this effort has provided “much needed relief to Texas’ overwhelmed border communities,” while Bowser believes the governors are lying and trucking the migrants.
“The Biden-Harris Administration continues ignoring and denying the historic crisis at our southern border, which has endangered and overwhelmed Texas communities for almost two years,” Abbott said.
Migrants who are on these buses are people who have surrendered to federal immigration officials at the southern border where, after a screening process, they were released on humanitarian parole and issued a date to reappear in immigration court. The office of U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services says it grants humanitarian parole if one has a “compelling emergency and there is an urgent humanitarian reason or significant public benefit to allowing you to temporarily enter the United States.”
The two governors of Texas and Arizona have launched their own government programs like Abbot’s Operation Lone Star and Ducey’s H.B. 2317 which outlines a $564 million investment for securing the border with a physical barrier, funds the increasing in the number of officers present and allocates $15 million for the transportation of individuals seeking asylum.
Ph.D student and graduate research assistant, Raul T. Candelaria, is a thirteenth generation Mexican-American who studies in the Department of Communication, Culture and Media at Howard University and believes the Office of Migrant Services represents the need for policy to work for the good of the public adding that, “these Governors are afraid the migrants will change the political and social landscape of their states.”
“I’ve seen migration into New Mexico from Mexico. I’ve witnessed how white neo-conservatives of Texas and Arizona deal with people of diverse ethnic cultures, migrants and immigrants, and it is not pretty,“ Candelaria said.
As migrants arrive with no funds, work or family they are relying on nonprofit organizations and volunteer groups like Sanctuary DMV, the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network and SAMU for support. Organizations like SAMU have helped facilitate the spending of federal grants from entities like the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency Food and Shelter Program grant, which the mayor says is nearing almost $2 million.
Critics of the bill believe that the office will be taking away from resources that should be used to help alleviate the District’s issue with residents currently experiencing homelessness, which has consecutively decreased annually for the last six years according to the office of the mayor and the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness.
Organizers like Mahdvi Bahl took note of clauses in the bill that would be detrimental to incoming migrants who will not be able to move on to farther cities and end up stuck in D.C with no resources or access to benefits like food and rental assistance.
“When we saw the text of the bill that was passed Tuesday, it had an entire section dedicated to excluding migrants from accessing homeless services and establishing residency in the district,” Bahl said in an interview.
The council has agreed to meet again this month to continue to discuss long term solutions for these migrants.
“We as Americans must remember migrants are human beings, and this is a humanitarian crisis,” Candelaria says, “the building of the Office of Migrant Services within the Department Human Services institutionalized this humanitarian crisis in a policy structure to serve people with thoughtful realistic services.”
Copy edited by Jadyn Barnett