Politics GOP governors send busloads of immigrants to DC and...

GOP governors send busloads of immigrants to DC and NYC – no plan for what’s next

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Venezuelan migrants boarded a bus in Del Rio, Texas, on Tuesday in view of the US Capitol in Washington, DC.

By Stephanie Reynolds/AFP Getty Images


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By Stephanie Reynolds/AFP Getty Images


Venezuelan migrants boarded a bus in Del Rio, Texas, on Tuesday in view of the US Capitol in Washington, DC.

By Stephanie Reynolds/AFP Getty Images

For months now, the governors of Texas and Arizona have been sending charter buses full of immigrants and refugees to Washington, DC’s Union Station, a few blocks from the Capitol building.

When they land, they find no local or federal government there to meet them.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he began sending buses to D.C. as the Biden administration sought to lift the pandemic-era emergency Title 42 order that allowed the U.S. to deny entry to immigrants.

According to Abbott’s office, more than 6,100 immigrants from Texas alone have been resettled in DC. They arrive six days a week, at 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. — sometimes several buses a day.

and Abbott on Friday The first bus arrived in New York City.

“In addition to Washington, DC, New York City is an ideal destination for these immigrants, who can find the urban services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams proudly touts in a sanctuary city,” Abbott wrote in a statement. “I hope he follows through on his promise to welcome all immigrants with open arms to bring relief to our overrun and overburdened border towns.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser says it’s a federal problem that demands a federal answer. She and other local government officials secured a FEMA grant in June for an international nonprofit organization to provide emergency services to migrants.


Many families came unprepared for what lay ahead.

By Stephanie Reynolds/AFP Getty Images


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By Stephanie Reynolds/AFP Getty Images


Many families came unprepared for what lay ahead.

By Stephanie Reynolds/AFP Getty Images

So far, only local volunteers and non-profit staff have hailed these buses at Union Station. Abel Nuñez is the head of CARECEN, the Central American Resource Center, which stepped in to help settle people in DC when this all started.

“It was really crazy because they were just dropping them off on the street,” said Nunez, who first showed up at the station on April 16 after receiving a tip from the D.C. Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs that a bus was on its way.

“We knew it was on its way so we’d been there since 5 a.m. with the mutual aid agencies waiting for them,” he said, adding that the first bus didn’t arrive until 8 a.m. “And it was amazing how much shock there was. These people were getting off the bus.”

The organization soon learned that immigrants were released from immigration detention centers at the border and spent much less time — sometimes less than a day — at border shelters or nonprofits before boarding buses for the 36-hour journey. .


Community efforts have been made to help the arriving migrants.

By Stephanie Reynolds/AFP Getty Images


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By Stephanie Reynolds/AFP Getty Images


Community efforts have been made to help the arriving migrants.

By Stephanie Reynolds/AFP Getty Images

Last week, Mayor Bowser requested that the federal government deploy the National Guard to DC to support nonprofit workers helping immigrants.

The federal government would have to call in the D.C. National Guard because the District is not a state, but it didn’t. Additionally, some volunteers disagree with what they call a “militarized response” to a humanitarian crisis.

“The governor of Texas pushed the rest work up to D.C. We’re not a border city so we’re not used to doing this kind of work,” Nunez said. His organization is helping migrants get off the bus by providing food, hygiene kits and a safe place to rest.

“For them, it was just a free ride,” Nunez said. “They had no other options and were offered a bus to the East Coast — Washington, DC — which some of them thought was closer to their final destination … so they were happy.”

But he added that with only local volunteers and nonprofit workers greeting the buses and no government support to greet them, immigrants were confused by the disorder they encountered when they arrived in D.C.

“We have to recognize that the immigrants coming here were mainly from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba… some people were from Central Africa… so they had. [final] Destinations like Miami, New Jersey, New York or Tennessee [in mind]” Nunez said.

“We need a place where we can accept them, feed them and help them plan their next step. Even if that means staying in the DC area.”


Volunteers have sometimes taken migrants into their own homes to help.

By Stephanie Reynolds/AFP Getty Images


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By Stephanie Reynolds/AFP Getty Images


Volunteers have sometimes taken migrants into their own homes to help.

By Stephanie Reynolds/AFP Getty Images

CARECEN has helped send some immigrants to California or Texas, or where they have family or friends who can take them in. Still, aid volunteers say about 10-15% of those released from these buses have decided to stay in DC indefinitely.

A couple from Venezuela stayed at a volunteer home with their four children until they moved to Florida.

“There in Texas, when we were in the refugee camp, it was more difficult because there are troops on the border, so they treat people like terrorists,” said Ronald, the husband. “I thought we were in a good place. If we didn’t have her family, I told her we’d stay here. We’d stay in Washington.”

Critics — including some Republican state and local officials — have called Abbott’s plan to move immigrants to D.C. “Political Drama”. Still, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey joined Texas and began seating immigrants in the nation’s capital in May.

“I felt like he really wanted to make a media hit out of this,” said Nunez of Abbott’s moves. “And eventually after two or three weeks when it’s all over, he’ll stop doing it.”


The federal government has not yet sent the National Guard to help with relief efforts.

By Stephanie Reynolds/AFP Getty Images


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By Stephanie Reynolds/AFP Getty Images


The federal government has not yet sent the National Guard to help with relief efforts.

By Stephanie Reynolds/AFP Getty Images

When that didn’t happen, Nunez said the community stepped in.

“I think this is an example where the local community stood up and said, ‘No, we’re not going to cause chaos in our city, we’re going to stand in solidarity with the people on the bus and help them. To the best of our ability,'” Nunez said. “Now we’re reaching our limits on it.”

But he added that resources from the city or the federal government and other municipalities can really help. “I think we can do an amazing job of showing this nation what it means to integrate newcomers into our communities.”



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