The Department of Defense on Friday denied Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser’s request for 150 National Guard troops amid what she called a “humanitarian crisis” as an influx of migrants arrived in the nation’s capital.
Bowser last week requested that the D.C. National Guard help with the thousands of migrants arriving to Union Station in Washington and requested that the D.C. Armory be used as a processing center.
A senior defense official on Friday told Fox News that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin “has declined to approve the DCHSEMA request for DCNG to provide personnel and the DC Armory to assist the NGO, SAMU First Response, with transportation and reception of migrants arriving in the D.C. area.
“We have determined providing this support would negatively impact the readiness of the DCNG and have negative effects on the organization and members,” the official said. “We understand SAMU First Response has received grant funding through FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program, and has indicated that sufficient EFSP funds exist at this point to provide migrant assistance.”
Bowser has been sounding the alarm about thousands of illegal immigrants — some of whom have been bussed in from Texas — into the nation’s capital, which she said is straining its social safety net.
“We are focused, and we continue to be very focused on having the federal government do its part and take the lead in what we see as a growing humanitarian crisis with people who are seeking asylum coming across the country to get to their final destinations,” Bowser said last week.
She also said that D.C. had secured a $1 million grant to have FEMA set up a “respite center” for migrants hitting the capital.
“The number of people crossing the border seeking asylum, we expect only to go up, and we need to make sure there is a national response,” Bowser said.
Reuters reported Thursday that the comments and her requests had caused tensions with the White House. Officials had disagreed with her portrayal of a “crisis” — a word the administration has shied away from when discussing the border — and described her request as unnecessary.
A White House official told Fox News Digital: “We have had constructive conversations with Mayor Bowser and her team, and are committed to working with her and her team just as we do effectively with other local leaders.”
“As we have said repeatedly, Republican governors using desperate migrants as political tools is shameful, and it is wrong,” the official said.
The comments echo those made last week by White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who also sought to blame Republicans for the situation in the two Democrat-run cities.
“There is a process in place for managing migrants at the border; this is not it — what they’re doing currently,” she told reporters at a press briefing. “That includes expelling migrants as required by court order under Title 42, transferring them to ICE custody, or placing them in the care of local NGOs as they await further processing…Again, so what Republicans are doing, the way that they’re meddling in the process and using migrants as a political pawn, is just wrong.”