Since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced back in April a plan to voluntarily bus undocumented migrants that cross the Texas-Mexico border to Washington, D.C., more than 6,000 migrants have arrived in the nation’s capital.
Texas has also started busing migrants to New York City. Mayors of both cities have called the strategy inhumane and have asked the federal government for help.
Amanda Gomez, a reporter for the Washington, D.C. NPR-affiliate WAMU, said that primarily local non-profits and volunteers have been responding to the arrival of migrants on buses sent from Texas and now Arizona.
“They’ve offered folks support — be it a bus or plane ticket if they’re looking to leave D.C. or they’ve offered them temporary housing, either connections to a shelter or even volunteers would even offer their own homes to temporarily house people,” Gomez said. “But they’re overwhelmed.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has requested federal assistance to provide aid in intaking migrants who are arriving from the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Mayor Muriel Bowser has requested to use the city’s own National Guard; D.C. is not a state and so cannot activate its own National Guard,” Gomez said. “That request was denied last week. The federal government said that it was too much of an open-ended request.”
Gomez said the nonprofit SAMU, which is directly serving migrants arriving on buses, would like more support from the city. The organization is asking for a space to intake migrants. At the moment, they’re doing it out of Union Station’s food court.
“There’s no privacy,” Gomez said. “It’s a bus station. It’s a train station. It can be pretty chaotic. They want to be able to offer a respite. People come in, they are hungry, they want a shower. So SAMU would really like a place to host people temporarily.”
Gomez also said that it’s a mixed bag as to whether some migrants actually want to travel to D.C.
“I know that some people have willingly got on the bus because it makes more sense to go on the bus to their final destination,” Gomez said. “Sometimes, though, you know, they were trying to go to another part of Texas and didn’t realize that by going on – like, just took a free ride – [they] just got further from their destination.”