(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that she is establishing an Office of Migrant Services to provide support and services to migrants being bused to Washington, DC from Texas and Arizona. To establish the office, the Mayor declared a public emergency and announced that she will send emergency legislation to the Council of the District of Columbia to support the new framework. The Office of Migrant Services will be within the Department of Human Services and will also provide support and services to non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
“With this plan, we are staying true to our DC values and building a system that will support a compassionate, consistent, and well-coordinated response,” said Mayor Bowser. “This is a new challenge for DC, 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.”
In the spring, the governors of Texas and Arizona began busing migrants to Washington, DC in a political stunt meant to get the attention of the White House. Since then, Texas and Arizona have reported to the media that approximately 9,400 migrants have been bused to Washington, DC. A vast majority of migrants move on to final destinations outside of Washington, DC.
Through the office, the District will be able to set up a framework to:
- Meet all buses and facilitate onward travel;
- Triage the needs of people arriving in Washington, DC 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 ensures the District’s response to this humanitarian crisis is consistent and well-coordinated.
The Office of Migrant Services will provide support with reception, respite, meals, temporary accommodations, urgent medical needs, transportation to final destinations, connection to resettlement services, translation services, and other needs as they are determined. The District is allocating an initial $10 million to stand up the new office and support organizations working in the field, and we will seek reimbursement from the federal government.