As a result of President Joe Biden's reversal of a policy that made it more difficult for low-income immigrants to receive green cards, Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C., is adopting emergency steps in response to migrants arriving by bus from Arizona and Texas.
Thursday, Bowser proclaimed a state of emergency, releasing $10 million to handle what she termed a "humanitarian crisis," caused by the flow of migrants dispatched by the two Republican governors of border states to protest the Biden administration's immigration policy. The decision was made on the same day that the White House reversed a policy from former President Donald Trump's administration that denied permanent residency to some immigrants who received public benefits.
Bowser stated at a press conference that her reaction includes establishing a new Office of Migrant Services to assist the approximately 9,400 immigrants who were bused to the nation's capital. While the majority of bused-in visitors continue to other locations, the new office will assist organizations in meeting their requirements.
Bowser stated, "We recognize that we don't know and we don't have control on all that is coming towards the district," Bowser said. "But we do have control over how our values are present on all that we do."
She noted that the federal reaction to D.C.'s challenge "has been lacking in some respects."
In July, Bowser requested assistance from the National Guard and the White House, stating that the influx of migrants threatened to overburden the district's social services. After one month, the Pentagon denied her plea.
In the spring, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey began paying for buses to transport migrants who may have entered the nation illegally to Washington, D.C., and New York City.
In April, Abbott stated that Texas was "overwhelmed by hordes of illegal immigrants who are being dropped off by the Biden administration," adding that "the [White House] will be able to more immediately address the needs of the people that they are allowing to come across our border."
Republican displeasure with Trump's immigration policy has prompted the president to pledge to reverse them. In April, the Biden administration reversed a previous policy that prevented migrants from entering the United States as a safeguard against COVID-19.
Thursday, the United States Department of Homeland Security said that it had completed reversing the Trump administration's "public charge" rule, reinstating the term's historical definition. A public charge is a recipient of public assistance.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement announcing the rule change, "This action ensures fair and humane treatment of legal immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members," Consistent with America's fundamental ideals, we will not penalize individuals who choose to utilize the available health benefits and other supplementary government services.
Immigrants who received services such as housing, Medicaid, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program were ineligible for green cards or temporary visas to remain in the United States under Trump's policy.
The Trump administration justified its era's policy because it fostered independence. Critics, including Ducey, argued that it harmed immigrants with low incomes. The governor of Arizona told KAWC that the United States requires individuals who "will climb the economic ladder."