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DC Mayor requests National Guard to help migrants bused to DC from Texas, Arizona for second time

In a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, Bowser requests National Guard assistance to help "prevent a prolonged humanitarian crisis."

WASHINGTON — Mayor Muriel Bowser is once again requesting National Guard assistance in helping aid migrants being bused to D.C. from Texas and Arizona.  

Earlier this month, the Pentagon rejected a request from Bowser seeking National Guard assistance in what the mayor has called a “growing humanitarian crisis” prompted by thousands of migrants being bused to the city from the two states. 

In July, Bowser formally asked for an open-ended deployment of 150 National Guard members per day as well as a “suitable federal location” for a mass housing and processing center, mentioning the D.C. Armory as a logical candidate.

In a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Thursday, Bowser once against requests National Guard assistance to help "prevent a prolonged humanitarian crisis in our nation's capital." 

The renewed request seeks to address concerns regarding the previous request for aid. 

Defense Secretary Austin originally declined to provide Guard personnel and the use of the D.C. Armory to assist with the reception of migrants into the city, according to U.S. defense officials. Bowser said the National Guard did not approve of the "open-ended nature" of the request.

In the new request, Bowser sets an official timeline of aid requested. The letter says Guard assistance would be needed starting Aug. 22 and last for a period of 90 days, with a reevaluation of the mission on Dec.1, 2022. 

Bowser also clarified where troop resources would be best used. 

"DCNG would assist with managing sites inside the District, such as facility management, feeding, sanitation, and ground support," Bowser wrote.  

The crisis began in April when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, both Republicans, announced plans to send busloads of migrants to Washington, D.C., in response to President Joe Biden’s decision to lift a pandemic-era emergency health order that restricted migrant entry numbers.

Experts estimate that as many as 200 buses have arrived in the District, delivering more than 4,000 migrants to Union Station. The migrants are typically left behind without any food, water or resources for housing.

Bowser detailed in her letter that most migrants who are arriving in D.C. do not plan to stay there, instead looking for help to support them for the 72 hours before moving on to their final destination. A resource some migrants claimed they were told would be available when they boarded the bus. 

Ana Karina Arce Polano, an asylum seeker from Venezuela, is a mother of two who arrived in D.C. last month on one of the buses. She told WUSA9 that a man in a badge and uniform, in Texas, told her family they would be sent to Colorado after they got to D.C. She said that ultimately did not happen.

"We arrived here with faith to give them a better life and it turns out that we do not even have a place to sleep and no way to get where we want to go,” she said.

Barbara Diaz, an asylum seeker and mother of three from Venezuela, also said a Texas official told her family someone in D.C. would ultimately provide her family with a bus ride or flight to Chicago.

“But it was all a lie,” she said.

Ultimately, Bowser claims she has requested National Guard support nearly 50 times since she became mayor in 2015.

"Each time, these operational, apolitical requests have been granted. I have been honored to work with these men and women to keep our nation's capital safe in times of great stress, and I take very seriously my responsibility to honor their service with legitimate, on-mission requests," Bowser writes.

Click here to read Bowser's letter in full. 

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