The Pentagon rejects Washington’s call for the National Guard to help amid the influx of immigrants | Pro IQRA News

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The Pentagon has rejected a request from the District of Columbia for National Guard assistance in what the mayor described as a “growing humanitarian crisis” driven by thousands of immigrants moving into the city from two southern states.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin refused to provide guard personnel and use the DC Armory to help receive immigrants in the city, according to US defense officials. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that the district may send a modified “more specific” request, adding that she believes this is the first time a DC application for the National Guard has been denied.

One of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a decision that has yet to be announced, said FEMA’s Food and Shelter Program had provided funding for the problem, and noted that those funds are sufficient at this point.

Boozer, the Democratic county’s mayor, formally requested the White House last month for an open posting of 150 National Guard personnel per day as well as a “appropriate federal location” for a group housing and treatment center, citing DC Armory as a logical candidate.

During the spring, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, both Republicans, announced plans to send buses loaded with immigrants to Washington, D.C., in response to President Joe Biden’s decision to lift a pandemic-era emergency health order restricting immigrants. Entry numbers deny them the opportunity to seek asylum. The rule is still in effect by court order.

On Friday, Abbott said the first group of immigrants from his state have now been bused to New York as well.

As of mid-July, about 5,200 immigrants from Texas have relocated to the capital since April. As of August 3, more than 1,300 have been dispatched from Arizona since May. Governors call this practice a free voluntary excursion — paid for by state taxpayers — that brings immigrants closer to family or support networks.

But Bowser last month dismissed that characterization, saying asylum seekers are being “deceived,” with many not getting close enough to their final destinations, and some being abandoned at Union Station near the US Capitol and the White House. They often arrive without resources and with no idea what to do next.

Victor Rodriguez, 27, and his wife Ordales Rodriguez, 26 — immigrants originally from Venezuela taken on a bus from Texas — are seen with their children Jeremias, 5, and Luciana, 1, outside Union Station in Washington, D.C., on April 13.
Victor Rodriguez, 27, and his wife Ordales Rodriguez, 26 — immigrants originally from Venezuela taken on a bus from Texas — are seen with their children Jeremias, 5, and Luciana, 1, outside Union Station in Washington, D.C., on April 13.

Craig Hudson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

On Friday, Bowser told reporters that the Pentagon appears to be concerned “about the open nature of our request” and that a more specific request might help.

“We want to continue working with the Department of Defense so they understand our operational needs and to make sure that political considerations are not part of their decision,” Boozer said, adding that she believes the crisis will only get worse. “We need the National Guard. If we were a country, I would already have done it.”

A coalition of local charitable groups has been working to feed and house immigrants, with the help of a $1 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). But regulators warn that their resources and staff are on the cusp of exhaustion.

“This reliance on NGOs is unprofitable and unsustainable – they are overwhelmed and underfunded,” Bowser said in her letter. She has repeatedly stated that the influx underscores her government’s ability to care for its homeless population and now requires a federal response.

Bowser harshly criticized Abbott and Dossey, accusing them of “cruel statesmanship” and saying the couple “decided to use desperate people to score political points.”

Explaining his decision to add New York City as a destination, Abbott said that “Biden’s refusal to acknowledge the crisis his open border policies have caused” has forced Texas to “take unprecedented action to keep our communities safe.”

He said the migrants are disembarked at the Port Authority bus station.

“In addition to Washington, D.C., New York City is the perfect destination for these immigrants, who can get an abundance of city services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams boasted within the city of sanctuary,” Abbott said.

In response, Adams spokesman Fabian Levy tweeted that Abbott’s continued use of humans as political pawns is disgusting. New York City will continue to welcome asylum seekers with open arms, as we have always done, but we still need support from the capital.”

Immigrants from Venezuela, who board a bus in Del Rio, Texas, disembark within sight of the US Capitol on August 2.  Since April, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (right) has ordered more than 150 buses to transport about 4,500 Texas immigrants.
Immigrants from Venezuela, who board a bus in Del Rio, Texas, disembark within sight of the US Capitol on August 2. Since April, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (right) has ordered more than 150 buses to transport about 4,500 Texas immigrants.

Stephanie Reynolds via Getty Images

As mayor of D.C., Bowser does not have the authority to issue a personal order to deploy the National Guard, an issue that has become emotionally charged in recent years as a symbol of the region’s entrenched status as less than a state.

Its limited power played a role in the January 6, 2021 mutiny in the US Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. When it became apparent that the Capitol hordes were outnumbered, Bowser was unable to immediately deploy the district guard. Instead, a critical time was lost while the demand was being considered inside the Pentagon, and protesters broke out in the building.

Associated Press writer Ashraf Khalil in Washington, Karen Matthews in New York City and Bob Christie in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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