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Washington office editor
Washington office editor
The mayor of Washington, DC, declared a state of emergency after more than 9,000 immigrants arrived in her city. For months, buses full of asylum seekers have arrived from Texas and Arizona, at the border with Mexico. Those states’ Republican governors are trying to enforce a tougher immigration policy with President Biden.
To increase pressure on Democratic Washington, the Republican Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, arrived two buses at the residence of Vice President Kamala Harris yesterday.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is now also beginning to redirect immigrants from his state. It goes even further: DeSantis has sent two planes carrying immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts where many wealthy Americans own vacation homes, including former President Obama.
According to DeSantis, “every society in this country must bear the same burden, not just the republican states.” This refers to border states such as Texas and Arizona. Governor Abbott accuses the president of “endangering the lives of Texas and Americans.”
New York and Chicago also saw bus arrivals, albeit in smaller numbers. The mayors of the three big cities call it a political show. “People are taking shelter here, and they are being treated harshly by the governor of Texas,” said Eric Adams, Mayor of New York.
It’s seven in the morning in Washington when the bus approaches. Roughly sixty immigrants exit the pier of the Capitol Building nearly. They look tired but rested after a 40 hour flight. There was little time to rest along the way. Most only have a plastic bag with some food or drink in their hands, and some carry a Red Cross emergency bag.
Cousins Weber, 21, and Daniel, 22, have been traveling from Venezuela for the past three months. Except for Venezuela, immigrants from this bus come mainly from Colombia and Peru. Along the way they had to say goodbye to Daniel’s brother. The Texas border guards dismissed them and put the brother on a bus to Chicago.
Their cousins say they have had stressful months, traveling on foot through jungles, cities, and eight countries, risking their lives. It was especially difficult in Guatemala and Mexico. Their path was blocked several times and they had to bribe corrupt policemen in order to cross.
They say that many other passengers on the bus met them early on their way. It now looks like a family, getting smaller and smaller due to all the dangers along the way.
“Happier and more hopeful’
Tatiana Laborde and her auxiliary organization SAMU First Response wait for buses in the US capital. “The city is not ready for that, but we are trying to organize a good arrival with all our might.” Among other things, Laborde and her colleagues provide a meal. They have a shelter where they can temporarily house fifty migrants.
Laborde himself came to the United States 22 years ago. You find what is happening now sad. “Every time I see an oncoming bus, tears well up in my eyes because of the uncertainty and fear that people have to live with. However, the majority are happy and hope they have made it to this city. They don’t see it being used as a political ploy.”
Additional funds due to the emergency
The White House responded forcefully, calling the three Republican governors’ choices “shameful, reckless, and wrong.” But despite these frustrations, Muriel Bowser, the Democratic mayor of Washington, is also disappointed with President Biden’s approach. Its request to deploy the National Guard was rejected twice. The emergency declaration frees up $10 million from city coffers to improve reception.
Lieber and Daniel hardly notice it. The final destination has been reached, but uncertainty remains. All they have with them is a yellow envelope containing important documents with which to enter the lengthy asylum procedure. In the coming weeks, Daniel especially hopes to quickly reunite with his brother, who has since arrived in Chicago.
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