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The Defense Department on Friday rejected Washington, DC, 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 DC National Guard assist with the thousands of migrants arriving at Union Station in Washington and requested that the DC Armory be used as a processing center.
A senior defense official told Fox News on Friday that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin “has declined to approve the DCHSEMA request to the DCNG to provide personnel and the DC Armory to assist the NGO, SAMU First Response, with the transportation and reception of migrants arriving in the DC area.
“We have decided to give this support a negative impact on the readiness of the DCNG and have negative effects on the organization and the members,” the official said. “We understand that SAMU First Response has received grant funding through FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program and has indicated that sufficient EFSP funds are available at this time to provide migrant assistance.”
WHITE HOUSE HAS ‘CONSTRUCTIVE CONVERSATIONS’ WITH DC MAYOR AFTER CALLING FOR HELP FOR MEN’S GOVERNMENT
Bowser has sounded the alarm about thousands of illegal immigrants — some of whom have been bused 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 getting the federal government to do its part and take the lead on what we see as a growing humanitarian crisis with people seeking asylum coming across the country for to get to their final destinations,” Bowser said last week.
She also said DC had secured a $1 million grant to have FEMA set up a “relief center” for migrants hitting the capital.
“The number of people crossing the border and seeking asylum we expect will only increase and we need to ensure there is a national response,” Bowser said.
Reuters reported on Thursday that the comments and her requests had caused tension 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.
DC MAYOR’S CALL FOR NATIONAL GUARD TO DEAL WITH MIGRANT ‘CRISIS’ SCORES BORDER OFFICIALS
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 as we do effectively with other local leaders.”
“As we’ve said repeatedly, Republican governors using desperate migrants as political tools is shameful and wrong,” the official said.
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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 Democratic-controlled cities.
“There is a process in place for handling migrants at the border; it’s not that – what they’re doing at the moment,” she told reporters at a press briefing. “That includes deporting migrants as required by a Section 42 court order, transferring them to ICE custody, or placing them in the custody of local NGOs while they await further processing… Again, so what the Republicans are doing, the way they interfere in the process and using migrants as a political pawn is just wrong.”