US migrants sent to Washington for ‘political show’


NOS News

  • Jesse Nijmeier

    Washington Bureau Editor

  • Jesse Nijmeier

    Washington Bureau Editor

The mayor of the US capital Washington has declared a state of emergency after the arrival of more than 9,000 migrants in her city. For months, buses filled with asylum seekers from Texas and Arizona have arrived at the border with Mexico. The Republican governors of these states are trying to enforce stricter immigration policies with President Biden.

To further increase the pressure on Democratic Washington, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott had two buses arrive at Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence yesterday.


These Venezuelans boarded a bus in Texas and were dropped off on Vice President Kamala Harris’ sidewalk

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is now also starting to deport migrants from his state. He goes a step further: DeSantis sent two planes of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, an island off Massachusetts where many wealthy Americans own vacation homes, including former President Obama.

According to DeSantis, “every community in this country should bear the same burden, not just the Republican states.” By this he refers to border states such as Texas and Arizona. Governor Abbott accuses the president of “endangering the lives of Texans and Americans.”

New York and Chicago have also seen buses arrive, albeit in smaller numbers. The mayors of the three big cities call it a political show. “People are seeking refuge here and are being treated cruelly by the governor of Texas,” said Eric Adams, New York’s mayor.

Heavy months

It’s 7 a.m. in Washington when a bus comes around the corner. Almost sixty migrants come out almost on the sidewalk in the Capitol. They look tired but relieved after a 40-hour journey. There was little time for a break along the way. Most have only a plastic bag with a little food or drink in their hands, some an emergency bag from the Red Cross.

Cousins ​​Yibr (21) and Daniel (22) have been traveling from Venezuela for three months. Apart from Venezuela, the migrants from this bus come mainly from Colombia and Peru. Along the way, they had to say goodbye to Daniel’s brother. Texas border guards separated them and put the brother on a bus to Chicago.


Yibr and Daniel from Venezuela, after arriving in Washington

The cousins ​​say they have had grueling months traveling on foot through jungles, cities and eight countries, risking their lives. It was particularly hard in Guatemala and Mexico. Their route was blocked several times and they had to bribe corrupt officers to get through.

Many of the fellow passengers on the bus encountered them early on their way, they say. It now feels a bit like a family that has become smaller and smaller because of all the risks along the way.

‘Most happy and hopeful’

Tatiana Laborde and her aid organization SAMU First Response wait for the buses in the American capital. “The city is not ready for this, but we are trying to organize a good arrival with all our power.” Laborde and her colleagues provide, among other things, a meal. They have a crisis center where they can temporarily accommodate fifty migrants.

Laborde himself came to the United States 22 years ago. She finds what is happening now disturbing. “Every time I see a bus coming, it brings tears to my eyes because of the uncertainty and fear people have to live with. Yet the majority are happy and hopeful that they have arrived in this city. They don’t see that they being used as a political stunt.”

Extra money due to state of emergency

The White House reacted strongly, calling the three Republican governors’ picks “disgraceful, reckless and wrong.” But despite these disapprovals, Muriel Bowser, the Democratic mayor of Washington, is also disappointed with President Biden’s approach. Her request to deploy National Guard troops has been rejected twice. The declaration of a state of emergency frees up ten million dollars from the city’s coffers to improve the reception.

Yibr and Daniel will hardly notice. The final destination has been reached, but there is still uncertainty. The only thing they have with them is a yellow envelope with important documents, with which they enter a lengthy asylum procedure. In the coming weeks, Daniel especially hopes to be quickly reunited with his brother, who has since arrived in Chicago.

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