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(WABNEWS) — The Washington City Council voted Tuesday to create a new agency that can handle the recent influx of immigrants sent to the capital from other states, whose leaders oppose the Joe Biden administration’s stance on immigration policies.RELATED
The measure seeks to improve the response for the thousands of immigrants who have arrived in the city of Washington from Arizona and Texas, states with Republican leaders who are now under scrutiny for the tactic.
The Washington city council approved the new agency in a unanimous vote, after Mayor Muriel Bowser requested it to address the needs of immigrants.
“With the Office of Migrant Services, we stay true to our values of the city of Washington by creating a framework that assists individuals and families, while at the same time ensuring that our homeless service systems continue to support our residents.” Bowser, a Democrat, said.
The new agency will be part of the district’s Department of Human Services. Its objective is to guarantee migrants that they will cover their basic needs, such as food, transportation, urgent medical care, and transportation to connect them with resettlement services.
The district will allocate $10 million to establish and support the new agency. In that sense, Bowser indicated that he will seek to reimburse part of that funding through the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Some 8,000 immigrants have arrived in the capital in the last six months, according to Councilwoman Brianna Nadeau, who sponsored the bill that proposes the creation of the agency. Nadeau believes the bill’s passage can help the city better assist migrants, according to her spokeswoman.
“This legislation will ensure that every immigrant is greeted by a bilingual and culturally competent professional, that they have a break, that they have food and cloth ing, and that they are safe and welcome,” Nadeau said.
The creation of the new agency comes as at least three Republican governors send immigrants out of their states to liberal cities like Chicago and New York, and recently Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. The shipments, some of which were made without warning, have left officials on the receiving end scrambling to accommodate the needs of thousands of people.
Last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the state deliberately sent two buses of migrants to Vice President Kamala Harris’s official residence in Washington.
Dozens of immigrants stayed outside the closed residence on the lawn and sidewalks because those in charge of helping the group were not prepared to receive them there, leaving the volunteers with difficulties to serve them.
SAMU First Response, one of the groups that helps immigrants in Washington, was not notified in advance of the place where they were going to be dropped off, according to the group’s director, Tatiana Laborde.
“When our team got to the immigrants, they were very lost,” Laborde told WABNEWS Thursday morning. “(Immigrants) didn’t understand where they were standing: This is a very residential area.”
Abbott’s efforts to send immigrants to Washington and New York have cost his state more than $12 million.
“Vice President Harris claims our border is ‘secure’ and denies the crisis,” Abbott tweeted at the time. “We are sending Immigrantes to her backyard to ask the Biden administration to do its job and secure the border.”
Also last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took credit for flying about 50 immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, who were not expecting the group. The Republican governor’s move was met with negative reactions from the White House, immigrant advocates and Democratic officials.
“We’re not a sanctuary state, and it’s better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction, and yes, we’ll help facilitate that transportation so they can go to greener pastures,” DeSantis said last week. “Every community in America should share the burden. It shouldn’t all fall on a handful of red states.”
The term “sanctuary state” is a broad description applied to jurisdictions that have policies designed to limit cooperation or participation in federal immigration enforcement actions.
Similarly, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has sent more than 1,800 immigrants to the city of Washington, and has no plans to stop doing so, according to the Republican governor’s office. Until last week, 50 buses with immigrants from Colombia, Peru and Venezuela have left them in the capital, at a cost of about US$4 million.
Paradise Afshar contributed to this report.