The Pentagon denied a request for National Guard support from the District of Columbia in response to what the mayor has dubbed a “rising humanitarian crisis” brought on by thousands of migrants being bused into the city from two southern states.
In Muriel Bowser’s formal request to the White House, the D.C. Armory was mentioned as a logical candidate for a mass housing and processing center.
The formal request also included an open-ended deployment of 150 National Guard personnel daily.
According to a copy of the rejection letter, the Pentagon said it “would not be appropriate” to use the D.C. National Guard and that the Defense Department “cannot fulfill your request.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser reacted to the rejection in a statement on Twitter, saying, “We are going to move forward with our planning to ensure that when people are coming through D.C. on their way to their final destination that we have a humane setting for them.”
Bowser initially requested D.C. National Guard support in late July when she said the city had reached a “tipping point” and needed help with the reception of migrants.
During the spring, in an act of political gamesmanship, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, both Republicans, announced plans to transport busloads of migrants to Washington, D.C.
This was in response to President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw a pandemic-era emergency health order that limited migrant admission numbers.
The migrants are being dropped off at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
An official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s food and shelter program is providing funding for the migrant problem. They said those funds are sufficient at this point.
A more detailed request, according to Bowser, would assist as the Pentagon seems to be concerned “about the open-ended nature of our request.”
“We want to continue to work with the Department of Defense so that they understand our operational needs and to assure that political considerations are not a part of their decision,” Bowser said.
She added that she believes the” crisis” will only worsen.
With the help of a $1 million grant from FEMA, a coalition of humanitarian organizations has been trying to feed and shelter the migrants.
However, organizers had alerted the public that their people and resources were running low.
The mayor emphasized the necessity of using a government building, like the D.C. Armory, as a “respite center” where refugees can remain until continuing their journey.
According to the mayor, the secretary has “failed to demonstrate an awareness of the pressing personnel and logistical problems that have driven me to make this severe request of our National Guard forces,” she claimed.
The DC National Guard, Bowser said, was “uniquely resourced” to provide logistical support to the city.
As D.C.’s mayor, Bowser lacks the power to personally order the deployment of the National Guard, a situation that has grown more contentious in recent years as a representation of the district’s entrenched status as less than a state.
“We need the National Guard. If we were a state, I would have already done it,” said Bowser.
Her limited authority contributed to the uprising of President Donald Trump supporters on January 6, 2021, in the U.S. Capitol.
Bowser could not send out the district guard immediately when it became evident that the crowds outnumbered the Capitol Police.
Instead, valuable time was lost while the Pentagon examined the proposal, and demonstrators destroyed the building.
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