WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has requested the deployment of military troops to assist with migrants arriving on buses sent by the Texas and Arizona state governments, according to letters sent by her office to U.S. military and White House officials.
Bowser, a Democrat, has clamored in recent weeks for federal funds to provide shelter and services to migrants arriving on buses from the two Republican-led states, which sought to make a political statement by sending border crossers to Washington.
“Our ability to assist people in need at this scale is very limited,” Bowser said in a letter to White House officials, adding that non-profit organizations welcoming migrants in Washington are “overwhelmed and underfunded.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican running for reelection in November midterm elections, blames U.S. President Joe Biden’s immigration policies for record numbers of migrant arrests at the border with Mexico.
The governor announced in April the state would bus migrants to Washington, saying “Texas should not have to bear the burden of the Biden administration’s failure to secure our border.”
Texas has sent over 150 buses carrying more than 6,000 migrants to Washington since April, according to Abbott’s office.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, another Republican, launched a similar effort in May and has bused more than 1,000 migrants, his office has said.
Some 85% to 90% of the arriving migrants continue to other U.S. destinations by bus or plane, according to two groups working to welcome the migrants in Washington.
Migrant advocates and Washington city council members have called on Bowser to devote city funds to the reception effort, but the mayor has said the federal government must step in.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams, another Democrat, has similarly said in recent weeks that migrant arrivals have taxed his city’s shelter system and called on the Biden administration to provide funding.
(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Editing by Chris Reese)
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