Washington, D.C. Mayor Declares Public Health Emergency Over Texas Migrant Bus


WASHINGTON, DC – Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a public health emergency in response to Texas which continues to bus migrants to the nation’s capital.

Bowser, who has been locked in a public row with Gov. Greg Abbott over his policy, announced the city would spend $10 million to create an office to help coordinate the arrival of migrants, offering them support upon their arrival.

“This will help us tailor our needs to migrants to provide reception services, respite services, meals, transport, urgent medical needs, transport to connect people to resettlement and other services,” said Bowser at a press conference announcing the move on Thursday.

The voluntary bus policy, part of the governor’s Operation Lone Star initiative to deal with the large number of migrants arriving at the Texas-Mexico border, began as a way to antagonize the Biden administration over its policies border. The first buses arrived in DC in April, and since then Abbott has sent more than 7,900 migrants to the capital. He also sent migrants to New York and Chicago. Arizona also transported migrants to DC

Leaders in those cities have complained that the buses are overwhelming their city departments, particularly because Texas doesn’t coordinate with them or give them advance notice of the arrival of the buses. Advocates and aid workers supporting migrants along the border, meanwhile, said Abbott is actually providing people with a useful service by offering free and safe transport to their final destinations.

Bowser said the city will seek reimbursement from the federal government for its new migrant program. Abbott criticized the city’s mayors for asking for help from the federal government.

His office sparked strong criticism of Bowser and the Biden administration after the announcement, calling the mayor “an absolute hypocrite.”

“The real emergency is on our country’s southern border – not in our country’s capital – where small Texas border towns are being overrun and overwhelmed by hundreds of migrants every day as the Biden administration throws them into their homes. communities,” said Abbott publicist Renae Eze. in a statement to the Texas Tribune. “Instead of fearmongering and complaining about a few thousand migrants in his sanctuary city, Mayor Bowser should be calling on President Biden to do his job and secure the border, which the President continues to fail to do.”

Bowser’s new initiative will seek to fill what experts have called a dangerous gap in Abbott’s program coordination.

“There is no real thinking about how we can have a coordinated response on how to deal with migrants arriving at our borders that is consistent with federal policy or working with other cities and federal agencies to ensure that our process is human,” Edna Yang, co-executive director of American Getaways, a Texas immigrant advocacy group, said.

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texatribune.org/2022/09/09/texas-busing-migrants-dc-emergency/.

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, member-supported newsroom that informs and engages Texans about politics and state politics. Learn more at texastribune.org.


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