In response to the growing number of migrants being bused from Texas and Arizona due to the actions of those state’s governors, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Thursday that she will declare a public emergency and establish an Office of Migrant Services through emergency legislation to the city council to ratify it.
The Office of Migrant Services will be a part of the Department of Human Services and provide support and services to nongovernmental organizations.
“With this plan, we are staying true to our D.C. values and building a system that will support a compassionate, consistent and well-coordinated response,” the mayor said. “This is a new challenge for D.C., but I feel confident that if we lead with our values, and if we put the right systems in place — which we are doing with the Office of Migrant Services, then we will lead a response that makes our community proud.”
Texas and Arizona officials have reported that 9,400 migrants have been bused to the District. A vast majority of the migrants move on to destinations beyond the city.
Bowser administration officials say the office will be able to set up a framework that will meet all buses and facilitate onward travel, triage the needs of people arriving in the District and attend to their basic needs, and set up a system, distinct from the homeless services system, that is tailored to the needs of migrants and ensure the city’s response to the crisis, deemed humanitarian, is consistent and well-coordinated.
The OMS will be funded with an initial $10 million to set up the office and support organizations doing the work. Bowser said the city will seek reimbursement from the federal government for the office and its operations.