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DC mayor requests Nat’l Guard help with illegal immigrant crisis in city

Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser speaking at 2015 AFGE Legislative Conference. (AFGE/Flickr)
July 29, 2022

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Thursday she officially requested the D.C. National Guard to help handle the illegal immigrant crisis in the capital as a result of President Joe Biden’s lax border policies. Bowser said there is a “growing humanitarian crisis” in Washington as Texas and Arizona continue sending busloads of illegal immigrants to the capital city in an effort to ease the burden on small border towns. 

“We’ve facilitated FEMA’s involvement with a million-dollar grant that has now been increased to work with a non-profit agency. We’ve facilitated using those grant funds to set up a respite center in a neighboring jurisdiction. And I’ve also asked the Secretary of the Army to deploy the D.C. National Guard to help lead that effort,” Bowser said during a press conference on Thursday.

“We need space and we need the federal government to be involved so I’ve asked for the deployment of the Guard as long as we need the Guard to deal with the humanitarian crisis that we expect to escalate,” she continued. “The number of people crossing the border seeking asylum we expect to only go up. We need to make sure that there is a national response. Not an ad hoc, city by city, state by state response.”

“We know that the federal government does this because we see this type of response with Afghan refugees and now we see it with people who are coming to the United States from Ukraine,” Bowser added. “So there is a robust federal response that helps people with transportation onto their final destinations and in even getting them a legal route to work. We need a parallel system for the increasing numbers of people that we will see crossing the border seeking asylum.”

The illegal immigrant crisis is worsening nationwide. More than 1.74 million illegal immigrants have already been apprehended at the southwest border so far this year, already topping last year’s all-time record despite three months remaining in this fiscal year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data showed.

Bowser said her team is “very focused” on ensuring the Biden administration does “its part” in taking the lead on “addressing what we see is a growing humanitarian crisis.”

Isaias Guerrero, a volunteer with the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, told the DCist that Mayor Bowser’s office and others treat illegal immigrants like a “hot potato.” 

“We don’t see anybody from Mayor Bowser’s office here,” Guerrero said. “We don’t see anybody from the Office of Latino Affairs here to say ‘Welcome, how can we support you’ even if it’s with, like, water. People just want to wash their hands because this is seen as a hot potato. But what it should be seen as is an opportunity for us to actually create a model of being welcoming.”

During an appearance on Newsmax earlier this week, Mayor Pro-Tem Yolanda Roman of Eagle Pass, Texas said the mayors of Washington, D.C. and New York are “experiencing just a little bit” of what border towns have been dealing with for the last year. 

“There complaining about, what, maybe 2,500 a month? We get over 13,000 a month. So maybe it’s just them getting a little taste of what we’re getting down here on the border. With all due respect to them, you know, it is what it is. They’re begging the federal government for help – we’ve been begging the federal government for over a year and we’re still in the same situation.”

“These are obviously unprecedented times and sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures,” she said, noting that Texas’ decision to bus illegal immigrants to D.C. and New York was part of an effort to get northern states to understand “what we’re going through.”

“Maybe that way we will get their attention,” she said. 

In an apparent response to the illegal immigrant crisis overwhelming Democrat-run cities, the Biden administration on Thursday announced that U.S. Customs and Border Protection will close four gaps in former President Donald Trump’s US-Mexico border wall. 

Biden’s Department of Homeland Security praised Trump’s border wall as a “modern” and “effective” measure to improve “safety and security along the Southwest Border.”