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DOD denies D.C. mayor's request for National Guard help with influx of migrants sent north by Texas

The governor is sending migrants on buses paid for by Texas taxpayers to D.C. and New York.
Migrants disembark in Washington, D.C.
Migrants from Venezuela, who boarded a bus in Del Rio, Texas, disembark in Washington on Tuesday.Stefani Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Defense denied D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s request for the National Guard to assist with the influx of migrants created by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s busing of migrants to the city, according to a letter reviewed by NBC News.

The letter, from the executive secretary of the Department of Defense, said the city has sufficient funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that has been given to D.C. nonprofits that can provide the immigrants with shelter and other services.

“After careful consideration the Department has concluded it cannot fulfill your request,” Kelly Bulliner Holly told Christopher Rodriguez, director of D.C.’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.

“I understand a non-Governmental Organization, SAMU First Response, has received federal grant funding via the Emergency Food and Shelter Program by FEMA for this mission. Notably this program supplements funding for humanitarian relief efforts by government and social service organizations for the purposes of providing shelter and supportive services to families and individuals,” the letter said. 

Abbott, a Republican who has been highly critical of the Biden administration’s border policies, began sending migrants on buses paid for by Texas taxpayers to D.C. in April. On Friday, he began sending migrants to New York City as well.

In a Friday morning press conference, Bowser said she has seen the letter and that her office may send an amended request to DOD, doubling down on claims the city is overwhelmed. 

“When we have a growing humanitarian crisis that we expect, that the federal government expects is only going to worsen I have got to deploy the resources that I need to handle it and we need our National Guard.”

She added that due to the fact that D.C. is not the final destination for many migrants arriving to the area, the city also needs a site where NGOs can assist those waiting.

“In many cases they are boarding buses being lied to about what’s going to be on the other end and they’re still not where they want to be,” she said. “Now if the federal government’s not going to do it, they need to at least get out of our way and give us the resources that we need and our National Guard and a site.”

Department of Homeland Security officials say Abbott’s involvement has complicated their normal processing of migrants at the border, where migrants are typically given notices to appear in court and pay for their own transportation to cities where they will attend their immigration proceedings. In most cases, migrants choose cities based on where they have family members or other sponsors with whom they can live while they await a decision in their immigration case.

A Defense Department spokesperson confirmed the contents of the letter and said, "We have determined providing this support would negatively impact the readiness of the DCNG and have negative effects on the organization and members."