Pentagon denies Washington mayor’s request for migrant help

By Thomson Reuters Aug 22, 2022 | 4:39 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon, for the second time in recent weeks, denied on Monday a request by Washington’s mayor to help receive migrants arriving from Republican-led states Texas and Arizona in a bid to shift responsibility to the federal government and Democrats.

Mayor Muriel Bowser in July called for the deployment of the District of Columbia National Guard to help with migrants, but that request was denied by the U.S. military.

She repeated her request on Aug. 11 – this time providing a specific 90-day timeline that would begin on Aug. 22.

In a letter sent to Bowser and seen by Reuters, the Pentagon said the D.C. National Guard did not have any specific training or experience in providing facility management, feeding, sanitation, or ground support to migrants.

The letter added that it would have a “substantial” impact on the readiness of the troops in D.C.

U.S. military officials have privately said for the past few years that they are being used for tasks that should be done by civilian agencies and troops should only be used as a last-resort for domestic issues.

The mayor’s initial request had frustrated some White House officials who thought Bowser, a Democrat, could handle the issue without military troops and was playing into Republican political attacks on President Joe Biden, a fellow Democrat.

Washington is not a U.S. state or part of one, so the authority to summon National Guard troops rests with the U.S. military.

The state of Texas, led by Republican Governor Greg Abbott, has bused more than 7,000 migrants to Washington since April. Arizona, which followed Texas’ lead in May, has sent about 1,500.

The vast majority of those arriving in Washington – some 85-90% – continue to other U.S. destinations within hours or days, according to volunteers.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Ted Hesson; Editing by Sam Holmes)