Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser is seeking to have 150 National Guard troops deployed to the city to help with the thousands of migrants arriving on chartered buses from Texas and Arizona, a politics-driven influx from border states that has overwhelmed local aid groups, the Washington Post reports. “We need space, and we need the federal government to be involved,” Bowser said, calling the busloads of migrants seeking U.S. asylum who have been arriving at Union Station “a humanitarian crisis that we expect to escalate.” Groups assisting the migrants denounced the request as seeking to “militarize” a problem that should provoke a more humanitarian response in a region increasingly made up of immigrants.
A spokesman for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the request is being evaluated. Bowser’s request comes amid an ongoing surge of migrants — many from Venezuela, Cuba or Central Africa — at the U.S.-Mexico border as the Biden administration seeks to end Title 42, a pandemic-related policy that paused nearly all asylum proceedings. With the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” program also ending, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) accused Biden of being too lax on border enforcement. In April, Abbott started sending migrants who arrived in his state to Washington so “the Biden administration will be able to more immediately address the needs of the people that they are allowing to come across our border.” A month later, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey followed suit with his own program busing migrants to D.C. The burden of assisting more than 4,000 migrants who have come to D.C. since then has fallen on local aid groups, many staffed by volunteers, who have met the migrants at Union Station and helped them find temporary shelter or assisted them with plans to reach destinations in other parts of the U.S. as they await asylum court dates.