WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon has denied a request from the District of Columbia The National Guard’s call for help in what the mayor called a “growing humanitarian crisis” was prompted by the influx of thousands of migrants from two southern states into the city.
According to US defense officials, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ruled out using Guard personnel and the DC Armory to help receive migrants into the city.
An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the decision, which has not yet been made public, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s food and shelter program funded the problem and indicated that funding was adequate.
Muriel Bowser, the district’s Democratic mayor, formally asked the White House last month For an open-ended deployment of 150 National Guard members per day as well as a “suitable federal location” for a mass housing and processing center, the DC Armory is cited as a logical candidate.
The crisis began in the spring when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, both Republicans, announced plans to send busloads of immigrants to Washington, DC, in response to President Joe Biden’s decision to lift a pandemic-era emergency health order. It limited the entry numbers of immigrants.
The city estimates 200 buses have arrived since then, delivering more than 4,000 immigrants to Union Station, often with no resources and no clue what to do next.
A coalition of local charities is working to provide food and shelter to migrants with the help of a $1 million grant from FEMA. But managers warn that both their resources and staff are becoming exhausted.
“This reliance on NGOs is dysfunctional and unsustainable — they are overstretched and underfunded,” Bowser said in her letter. She has repeatedly said the influx is stressing her government’s ability to care for its own homeless residents and that a federal response is needed now.
Bowser accused Abbott and Ducey of “cruel political gamesmanship,” accusing them of “deciding to use desperate people to score political points.”
The mayor does not have the authority to personally order National Guard deployment, an issue that has become emotionally charged in recent years as a symbol of the district’s entrenched status as less than a state.
She has limited authority On January 6, 2021, supporters of former President Donald Trump played a role in a riot at the US Capitol. When it became clear that the capital police were outmatched by the mob, Bowser could not immediately deploy the district guard. Instead, crucial time was lost when the request was considered inside the Pentagon and protesters stormed through the building.