A second group of asylum seekers arrived in Washington, DC, on a charter bus on Thursday after Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Division of Emergency Management to transport migrants from Texas to DC .
It comes just a day after the first bus of undocumented migrants from Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua was transported to the nation’s capital.
Abbott said the order is a direct response to President Joe Biden’s plans to end evictions from Title 42 on May 23. The controversial policy, which the Trump administration has implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, prevents migrants from entering the country under the auspices of a public health emergency.
“The leaders of Congress have no idea the chaos they have caused by open border policies and they refuse to come see firsthand and talk to the people who really are, they just drop bombs of ‘illegal immigrants from countries around the world, leaving these local communities to grapple with this,’ Abbott told reporters on Wednesday.
The Texas governor added, “There will be others arriving, whether by bus or plane, so Washington will have to respond and face the same challenges as we do.
Chris Magnus, U.S. Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CPD), expressed concern that Abbott was leading the operation without “adequate coordination with the federal government.”
“While individuals await the outcome of their immigration process, they are legally required to attend the next stages of their immigration process and permitted to travel elsewhere. CBP’s close partnerships with other government and non-government stakeholders are essential to this effort and to ensuring fairness, order and humanity in the process,” Magnus said in a statement. “Governor Abbott is taking steps to move migrants without proper coordination with the federal government and local border communities. CBP has always worked closely with and supported Texas border communities, which many CBP personnel call home.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s press secretary Susana Castillo told ABC News in a statement Wednesday, “Our administration continues to work with NGOs [Non-Government Organizations] that provide resources to arriving individuals and families. Our partners were able to sort out the first bus, which included people wishing to settle outside the region.
Immigration advocacy groups and religious leaders held a joint press conference outside Union Station in Washington, DC, to welcome asylum seekers who arrived in Washington DC on Thursday.
Organizers of Welcome with Dignity, Carecen and CASA told reporters they plan to help asylum seekers connect with family members in the United States, as well as provide legal services if needed.
“Our community is ready to receive any immigrants the Governor of Texas wants to send here. We are an open city. We are a welcoming city. We will continue to be that. We have the support of the local government,” said Abel Nunez, executive director of Carecen, a nonprofit organization of refugees from Central America.
“I urge the Governor of Texas, if he wants to continue sending immigrants to this area, to coordinate with us so that we can ensure that we can provide the best service and that we can meet all of their legal obligations” , Nunez said.
During the press, immigration advocates also called out Biden for delays in passing immigration reform. Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA, said federal legislation is the only long-term solution to deal with the current crisis.
“I want to send a very clear message to the Biden administration: It’s time to embrace immigration reform. I remember when he was running for president, he promised that if he controlled the White House and Congress, they would pass immigration reform. We’re still calling for that. That’s the only real solution to this crisis we’re facing,” Torres said.