Sunday, the White House said that migrants being bused to Washington, D.C., the night before in temperatures below freezing was a political “stunt.” Three buses with 139 people from Texas arrived at the Naval Observatory, where Vice President Kamala Harris lives, on Saturday, an advocate who met them told ABC News.
Even though no officials or groups said they helped get the people to the capital, some Republican state leaders have been busing migrants to protest what they call the failed immigration policies of the Biden administration.
Amy Fischer is a core organizer for the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network. On Saturday night, around 7:45 p.m., she was outside the Naval Observatory as buses began to arrive. Fischer said that among the migrants were “a bunch of families” and maybe 30 adults traveling alone or in groups like spouses or cousins.
The National Weather Service says that the temperature that night in Washington was in the teens. Fischer noted that none of the migrants were dressed for cold weather, but many had blankets to wrap up in.
Fischer said that the “vast majority” of them were people looking for asylum and that they all spoke Spanish. They were from Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Peru, and Nicaragua.
Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, both Republicans, have been sending migrants to parts of the country run by Democrats for months. Abbott said in a statement last month, “Texas‘ busing strategy has given much-needed relief to our border communities that have been overrun by the historic influx of migrants caused by President Biden’s careless open border policies.”
A spokesman for Ducey told ABC News that Arizona did not bus in the migrants on Saturday. Fischer said that she and other people from the aid network helped welcome the people as they arrived and directed many of them to a “respite location,” a church in the area. Still, she wouldn’t say which one because she was worried about security.
Fischer said that the place where people could take a break had warm meals, clothes, and hygiene kits. After the buses dropped them off at the Naval Observatory, some migrants were picked up by families.
Fischer said that in the two days since her group has helped people figure out how to get to their final destinations, a “handful” of people who plan to stay in D.C. had been moved to a hotel while they get ready to settle down. She said the groups took buses from Texas to Washington, where they knew they were going.
“I always think that people are a little bit confused… Everyone has a little bit of fear, “Fischer said. “That’s one of the things I like best about doing this kind of work: when you go to the respite places, people often walk in with a “what’s going on?” look on their faces.
‘Where is this?'” Fischer said. But then that hesitation goes away: “We had Christmas music playing, we were all wearing tacky Christmas sweaters, they gave us hot food, and you could see some of the stress leave people’s faces.”
Fischer said that most migrants want to go to New York and New Jersey, but some go to the South and some to Washington state. SAMU First Response group, which helps people seeking asylum in the U.S., worked with the migrants as they came in on Saturday.
In September, Abbott took 50 immigrants to Harris’ house on a bus. In August, he told “Nightline” on ABC News, “We have to secure our border because the Biden administration isn’t doing it.”
In August, Abbott’s office said that more than 6,500 migrants had been taken by bus to cities like New York and Washington. Fischer told ABC News that Abbott’s plan to transport migrants by bus is “the cruelest way possible” to move people. But she also said that the Biden administration was too focused on political differences and not doing enough to solve a pressing problem with logistics at the southern border, where people keep coming.
In September, a Texas Division of Emergency Management spokesperson told ABC News that the state had spent more than $12 million on charter buses and private security to move the migrants. President Joe Biden has said that these kinds of actions are “un-American,” “careless,” and “just wrong.”
In a statement on Sunday, White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan said, “This was a cruel, dangerous, and shameful stunt.” “As we’ve said many times, we’re willing to work with anyone, Republican or Democrat, on real solutions, like the comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures that President Biden sent to Congress on his first day in office,” Hasan said. “But these political games get us nowhere and put people’s lives in danger.”
All Over The Country, Migrants Have To Deal With Cold Weather
The latest migrant busing is happening as El Paso, Texas, deals with many people crossing the border. This is happening while the Supreme Court is deciding the fate of Title 42, a public health policy that stops some people from seeking asylum in the U.S. because of the threat of COVID-19. A decision could come at any time.
On average, authorities have met up to 1,500 migrants daily in the city. While groups worked quickly to find shelter for migrants in the cold, ABC affiliate, KVIA saw families sleeping on the streets in freezing weather late last week.
Sue Dickson, a minister, was giving a sermon at a church near the southern border on Christmas Eve. She said that people who had just crossed the border started coming into the church to get warm. She said, “Of course, we invited them to worship with us, and they were pleased to do so.” A group of church members drove the refugees to a nearby warming center.
Dickson helps out at the Annunciation House, which runs a network of four places where migrants can stay temporarily while they try to reach their families in other cities across the country. She said the worst thing about the cold is when people don’t have the right clothes and have to walk to the bus station, the pharmacy, or downtown stores.
“We give people warm jackets, hats, and gloves, but when they come to us, they usually don’t have warm clothes,” she said. The country has felt the effects of the high number of people crossing the border at the same time that many parts of the country have been hit by harsh winter weather. Over the weekend, Denver opened three warming centers for refugees and other people. One of these centers was at the Denver Coliseum.
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