DC-area leaders will pool ideas on how to help migrants

Local leaders from across the D.C. region are scheduled to meet this Friday regarding migrants arriving in the area.

D.C. Council member Brianne Nadeau will chair a meeting of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Region Forward Coalition as local aid groups struggle with dwindling resources to assist migrants bused into the District under Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s direction.

“With the number of buses arriving every day increasing rapidly, we encourage you to mobilize your administration to coordinate with other jurisdictions in the region to step in and assist with the response,” Nadeau and other council members said in a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser dated July 14.

“If the District truly is a sanctuary city, we must stand up against the hateful rhetoric of Gov. Abbott and provide a dignified welcome to the arriving migrants.”

A spokesperson for Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s delegate in Congress, said Norton will introduce an emergency appropriations bill seeking more funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s emergency food and shelter program.

“My hope is that we have a regional ask to the federal government for funding,” Nadeau told WTOP on Tuesday, hours after the announcement from Norton’s office.

In her letter to Bowser, Nadeau said the additional funding was needed for emergency services, COVID-19 testing for migrants and more.

“Those with COVID must be allowed access to isolation hotels, so they can quarantine until they are not infectious before they move on to local housing or their final destination,” the letter reads. “If we don’t have a plan, we will see more people entering our own systems that are meant for our own residents.”

Mutual aid networks have accused Bowser and other District officials of ignoring the flow of migrants bused into the city from Texas and Arizona for over three months, leaving a small number of volunteers to assist hundreds despite what local organizers describe as mounting mental and physical exhaustion.

“DMV-area community organizations and volunteers have shown up every day for over three months to support migrants but we are exhausted, burned out, and do not have the resources that the government does,” Madhvi Bahl, with Sanctuary DMV and Free Them All VA, said in a statement last week.

“D.C., a self proclaimed sanctuary city, has a mayor that refuses to even acknowledge the migrants arriving in this city. It is time for Mayor Bowser to wake up, meet our demands and provide the resources that our new neighbors so desperately need.”

In a news conference Monday, Bowser said the city has “a federal issue that requires a federal response.”

WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez contributed to this report.

Anna-Lysa Gayle

Anna-Lysa Gayle is an award-winning reporter and anchor, with five Emmy awards and more. Before joining WTOP, she spent nearly a decade as a TV news reporter for ABC and CBS news affiliates.

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