Arizona and Texas have bused over 6,100 illegal immigrants they apprehended crossing the border since May to Washington D.C.. The migrants volunteer for the trips, motivated partly by more generous laws towards the indigent in those cities.
NPR and other new outlets interviewed the migrants, confirming that they preferred to be bused out of Texas or Arizona. One reporter said, “Ronald told me that he felt welcomed in Washington in a way he just didn’t in Texas.” The city is finding resources to deal with the migrants. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser secured a FEMA grant for an international nonprofit called SAMU to offer emergency services to migrants. The Catholic Charities umbrella organization is also assisting.
The migrants have been warmly welcomed by numerous churches in D.C., assisting them with relocating to other cities. Most migrants come from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti.
Washington D.C. has welcomed the migrants more than the border states. D.C. resident Amy Fischer said she uses her lunch break to help the newcomers. “We’re told time and time again, that this is the first time that they’re treated with kindness in their journey,” she told Spectrum News. “And that makes me proud to be a D.C. resident.”
“In a way, it’s actually perfect,” Bilal Askaryar, a spokesman for Welcome With Dignity, told The New York Times. “Unintentionally, Governor Abbott sent them to one of the best places in the nation to welcome people.”
On August 5, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the state had also started busing migrants to New York City. Many migrants prefer to live there since it is one of only a few cities in the country with the right to housing laws. The city is required to provide emergency shelter for every unhoused person.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams acknowledged in mid-July that Texas and Arizona had already started busing migrants there, declaring, “In New York City, we have both a moral — and legal — obligation to house anyone who is experiencing homelessness for any reason.”
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced the state’s busing program in May, which he started in order to ease the surge of migrants when the Biden administration dropped Title 42 restrictions on the border. “With Arizona community resources under all-time demand, and little action or assistance from the federal government, individuals who entered Arizona seeking asylum have the opportunity to voluntarily be transported to Washington, D.C.,” he stated. “The transportation will include meals, and onboard staffing and support.”
Morgan Carr, a spokeswoman for Ducey, said the migrants already wanted to head toward D.C. “These people are wanting to go somewhere else. They’re not wanting to stay in Arizona,” she told the Washington Examiner. “From what we’re seeing, they’re all primarily [headed to] the East Coast.”
Ducey spokesman C.J. Karamargin said the state intends to get the federal government to reimburse the costs of busing the migrants. By late June, Texas had spent $5.3 million on the transfers, according to Nim Kidd, the chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
Texas is conducting the busing as part of “Operation Lone Star,” which fills “the dangerous gaps left by the Biden Administration’s refusal to secure the border.” The program includes drug busts and arresting migrants for crimes.
While D.C. has been fairly welcoming of the migrants, Bowser has come under criticism for not expending any of the city’s own resources. Bowser calls D.C. a sanctuary city but said the federal government must assume the expense. Isaias Guerrero, a volunteer with the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, complained, “We don’t see anybody from Mayor Bowser’s office here.”
In April, Ducey said Arizona was suffering from “the worst border crisis in over 20 years,” labeling it “a national security crisis, a public safety crisis and a humanitarian crisis.” In March, the Border Patrol’s Tucson and Yuma sectors tallied nearly 57,000 illegal entry attempts in March, the highest rate in years. However, Ducey has declined to declare an invasion on the border, even after Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued a legal opinion declaring he had the power and urged him to.
The Arizona Sun Times asked Ducey’s office how many migrants have been bused to D.C. and New York City, how much has been spent, and whether any effort has been made to recoup the costs from the federal government, and received no response by press time.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
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