New York, Washington Plead for Federal Help With Immigrants

August 22, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
New York, Washington Plead for Federal Help With Immigrants
Silvia Moreno del Castillo, center, of Lima, Peru, holds her daughter Brisa, 3, by the hand, followed by her husband Gerardo Puente, as the family who is seeking asylum from Peru is greeted by Derick Alegria, left, and Orlando Andara, both with the nonprofit SAMU First Response, as a bus of asylum seekers who were sent from Arizona to Washington arrives, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, to a church on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON — Pleas for federal assistance from city officials are becoming more shrill as Texas continues busing thousands of illegal immigrants to New York City and Washington, D.C.

The mayors of both cities say their resources for housing and feeding the immigrants are nearly depleted. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has no plans to stop busing the immigrants out of his state until the federal government makes a better effort to stop them from coming over the border illegally.

“OperationLoneStar is working 24/7 to combat the historic influx of illegal immigrants & criminal activity at the border. Texas will continue busing migrants to NYC & D.C. to help our overrun border communities,” Abbott said in a tweet on Friday.

The mayors of Washington and New York City say Operation Lone Star is far from the success that Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, both Republicans, call it.

Washington Mayor Muriel E. Bowser says the more than 7,000 immigrants who arrived in Texas since April have created a “humanitarian crisis.”

She is asking the Defense Department for assistance from the National Guard. So far, her requests have been denied.

New York Mayor Eric Adams said this month he is considering campaigning against Abbott to get him removed from the Texas governorship.

“I am deeply contemplating taking a busload of New Yorkers to go to Texas and do some good old-fashioned door knocking because we have to … get him out of office,” Adams said at a press conference.

He is trying to preserve New York’s status as a sanctuary city for immigrants by summoning assistance from volunteer aid groups and for-profit homeless hotel operators that provide clothing, food and shelter to them. One of the lead nonprofits helping the cities is SAMU First Response.

Adams said many of the illegal immigrants are arriving in New York malnourished, sickly and stressed. Others leave Texas or Arizona on buses but get off at unknown locations along the route.

So far, federal assistance has been much less than requested by the mayors.

It has included Federal Emergency Management Agency subsidies for part of the bus or train fares immigrants use to travel to other locations. They still must pay the other part of the fares.

Other immigrants have been sleeping on the sidewalk at downtown Washington’s Union Station after their buses arrive. Union Station is only a short walk from the U.S. Capitol building.

Homeless shelters in the Washington area report they have no more room to house the immigrants.

Bowser wants to use the District of Columbia Armory to provide the immigrants with food, housing and administrative procedures for their asylum applications. Defense Department officials said helping with immigrants was not the most appropriate use of the National Guard.

Washington secured a $1-million grant to have the Federal Emergency Management Agency set up a “respite center” for migrants. Bowser questioned whether it was enough.

“We are focused, and we continue to be very focused on having the federal government do its part and take the lead in what we see as a growing humanitarian crisis with people who are seeking asylum coming across the country to get to their final destinations,” Bowser said.

Bowser’s appeal to the Biden administration prompted a White House spokesperson to blame Republicans for aggravating the problem.

“So what Republicans are doing, the way that they’re meddling in the process and using migrants as a political pawn, is just wrong,” said press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Tom can be reached at [email protected] and @TomRamstack

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