By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser renewed her request for help from the U.S. military to deal with an influx of illegal immigrants being bused to the U.S. capital from the southern border.
The District of Columbia National Guard is needed, she said, “to help prevent a prolonged humanitarian crisis in our nation’s capital resulting from the daily arrival of migrants in need of assistance.”
The Democratic mayor’s initial July request for National Guard assistance was rejected by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Aug. 5.
Previously, Mayor Bowser requested assistance with no end date, a request the defense secretary said was too broad and would impact “mission readiness.” Her first request was rejected because “we have determined providing this support would negatively impact the readiness of the DCNG (D.C. National Guard) and have negative effects on the organization and members,” a spokesperson for Secretary Austin said in a statement.
The mayor’s new request asks for help for 90 days and proposes re-evaluating additional assistance on Dec. 1.
If approved, National Guard personnel would provide logistical support, including assisting with housing, food and other needs, being “uniquely resourced to provide emergency logistical support,” she wrote.
Still maintaining Washington, D.C., as a “Sanctuary City,” she’s suggested the federal government use the D.C. Armory or other federal sites as “respite centers” for foreign nationals in the U.S. illegally and treat them like war refugees even though the majority aren’t fleeing from war and aren’t believed to have valid asylum claims.
On Thursday, Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine, also a Democrat, said his office would begin offering grants to local groups that are providing humanitarian assistance to those being bused to the nation’s capital.
“The decision by the governors of Texas and Arizona to bus asylum-seeking migrants to the District is causing a humanitarian crisis,” he said in a statement. “The organizations and individuals who have shouldered the burden of providing basic needs and services – including housing, food, transportation and legal assistance –are understandably strained and simply cannot be expected to carry this responsibility alone.
“Building on our office’s strong track record of standing up for immigrants and reducing potential risks to public safety, we are pleased to offer grants in response to calls for additional resources and to assist this vulnerable population,” he added.
But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott argues the mayor’s and attorney general’s acknowledgement of the crisis is important, but one of President Joe Biden’s own making that “demands immediate and decisive federal action.” He’s also asked Mayor Bowser to “call on President Biden to stop dismissing the crisis and honor his duty of preserving America’s national security.”
Texas has transported more than 6,800 people to Washington, D.C., since April. In its first week, since last Friday, Texas has also bused over 360 people to New York City.
State agencies are continuing “to work together to secure the border, stop the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and people into Texas, and prevent, detect, and interdict transnational criminal behavior between ports of entry,” Gov. Abbott said.