Volunteers scrambled to meet asylum seekers on Christmas Day after buses to New York were diverted due to cold weather. In a hastily arranged reception, a church on Capitol Hill agreed to temporarily shelter the group, while one of the mutual aid groups, SAMU First Response, organized 150 breakfasts, lunches and dinners at Sardis, a restaurant chain.
“DC continues to welcome,” said Amy Fischer, the network’s lead organizer. “Whether it’s Christmas, freezing outside or warm outside, we’re always ready to welcome people with open arms and make sure they have a warm welcome in this community.”
Abbott began delivering asylum seekers Free passage to settler-friendly democratic cities April on the East Coast, an effort to pressure the Biden administration to crack down on the border. Other Republican governors, including Arizona’s Doug Ducey and Florida’s Ron DeSantis, have also sent buses to New York and the nation’s capital.
The White House condemned the move in a Christmas Day statement, saying Abbott did not plan with federal officials before the drop.
“Governor Abbott abandoned children on the side of the road in sub-freezing temperatures on Christmas Eve without coordinating with any federal or local authorities,” White House spokesman Abdullah Hassan told The Washington Post via email. “It 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 overhaul and border security measures President Biden sent to Congress on his first day, but these political games are accomplishing nothing and only putting lives at risk.” Hasan said.
Abbott’s office did not respond to requests for comment or publicly confirm the dispatch of the buses. In A letter In a message to President Biden on Tuesday, Abbott described conditions along the border, saying Texas cities Unable to accommodate the continuous influx of immigrants Coming from Mexico. He referred to the impending arctic weather and said the new arrivals were in danger of “freezing to death on the city streets.” Temperatures in Texas will drop into the twenties and 20s in some cities this weekend.
“These communities and the state are ill-equipped to do the job assigned to the federal government — thousands of immigrants flood the country every day,” Abbott said.
Abbott last week deployed the Texas National Guard to try to stop immigrants at places other than official entry points, which are essentially closed to many families and individuals because of a Donald Trump-era policy of rapid admissions into the United States. Sending people across borders without the opportunity to apply for asylum.
That policy, known as Title 42, was successfully challenged in court and expired Wednesday, but Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. He ordered it to be kept temporarily The Supreme Court has blocked Abbott and other Republican governors from making a last-ditch appeal to end it.
The Biden administration has said it is trying to put new resources and policies in place at the border to deal with the large number of immigrants who enter the country and seek asylum, a lengthy process that would normally allow them to live in the United States. Work while they await trial.
In his letter, Abbott called the administration’s efforts so far “disastrous,” saying: “This dire crisis for border communities in Texas is a disaster of your own making.”
In DC, buses had been arriving all week — three from Arizona, the other three from Texas — so Tatiana Laborde knew it was going to be an “intense” time. But on Friday, Laborde — executive director of SAMU First Response in partnership with the mayor’s office and the Mutual Aid Network. Helping Migrants – learned about three buses that were diverted. They were due to arrive on Sunday morning, Christmas Day.
But then there was another surprise — buses from Del Rio, Tex., parked near the vice president’s naval observatory on Christmas Eve.
That goal appears to be more political than logistical: while other buses stop at Union Station, the Naval Observatory is not near any other transit hubs. The Vice President was in DC this weekend.
Laborde said those boarding the run of state-chartered buses to democratic cities were less focused on political maneuvering than on getting to safety.
“Remember it’s not stopping,” Laborde said. “We’ve seen a lull in a few weeks, but there’s been a steady flow of migrants coming into the county. That’s become the norm. It’s not all negative, because it gives them a chance to be where they initially wanted to be and where the political asylum seekers have a better chance.
In response to the influx of busloads of immigrants from border states and Florida, local organizations and governments have developed a toolkit of support. DC Created the Office of Immigrant Services Coordinate services including temporary shelter, food and medical assistance.
Fischer said the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, a collection of aid groups formed in response to Abbott’s latest tactic, has mobilized volunteers to greet migrants as they get off buses Saturday. Alerted by an NGO in contact with the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the aid team worked with the city to charter a bus to take the migrants to the church, where the asylum seekers were given warm clothing and a hot meal.
Volunteers helped migrants find friends and family they believed could stay or connect them with housing. Laborde said his group was able to purchase about 90 bus and plane tickets for the migrants. New York and New Jersey were the main destinations. Far away was Boston.
Most of the migrants on the buses that arrived Saturday were from Central America or the Caribbean, Fischer said. Half of the group is from families. They came from Mexico through unauthorized and treacherous points along the border, while official border crossings are closed under the Title 42 public health policy.
“This is the final leg of a painful journey for them,” he said. “The journey, especially towards the border, is very dangerous and violent. And then, of course, there are reports of chaos at the border and border facilities being cold and cruel. Many of them were very happy to come with a smiling face.
Michael Granish and Cleve Woodson contributed to this report.
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