Washington, D.C. declared a public health emergency on Thursday (Sept. 8) as waves of migrants continued to arrive in the nation capital from Texas and Arizona.
Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the declaration enables her administration to establish an office that will provide services to the incoming migrants who are seeking asylum.
“We’re putting in place a framework that would allow us to have a coordinated response with our partners,” CNN quoted Bowser. “This will include a program to meet all buses, and given that most people will move on, our primary focus is to make sure we have a humane, efficient, welcome process that will allow people to move on to their final destination.”
Under the emergency declaration, the administration can more efficiently mobilize people and resources to address the crisis, as well as seek federal assistance. Officials plan to allocate $10 million to create the new office and ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency for partial reimbursement.
The rapid influx of asylum seekers stems from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, both Republicans, busing migrants from their states to northern cities in protest of the Biden administration overturning a pandemic-era order restricting migrant entry numbers to the U.S.
According to CNN, Texas sent more than 7,900 migrants to D.C., more than 2,200 to New York City, and more than 300 to Chicago.
By mid-August, Texas spent over $12 million busing migrants to the three sanctuary cities, ABC News reports. The three Democratic mayors have strongly criticized the border-state governors for their policy.
"My frustration comes from the actions of the governor of Texas. There could be a level of coordination and cooperation, but he chooses to do none of those things,” Fox News quoted Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a press conference on Sunday (Sept. 4). “Instead, he chooses to send human beings across the country to an uncertain destination. That's unacceptable."
In August, New York City Mayor Eric Adams tweeted his displeasure with Abbott busing migrants to the Big Apple. Adams said Abbott has “used innocent people as political pawns to manufacture a crisis. New Yorkers are stepping up to fix it — that’s our city’s values.”
Bowser echoed Lightfoot and Adams’ sentiment, condemning Abbott and Ducey for creating the “growing humanitarian crisis,” according to CNN.