WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday announced the creation of a new Office of Migrant Services to help with the increasing stream of migrants coming through the nation’s capital from Texas and Arizona and fund it with $10 million in District funds.

The mayor’s action, which was first reported by DC News Now, made the decision public at a news conference at the Wilson Building, explaining that she had to declare a formal public emergency to take the action.

The Bowser administration had been planning a response to the influx of migrants since the Department of Defense twice turned down the mayor’s request to deploy the D.C. National Guard to help with processing migrants.

The denials forced the mayor to pivot to the city trying to provide more financial and logistical support to help migrants who have been sent by the governors of Texas and Arizona to protest the immigration policies of President Joe Biden.

“We are certain that these are qualifying expenses,” the mayor said, saying the cash will come from contingency funds and authorized by the city administrator and chief financial officer. “We need people to make sure that we have coverage throughout the day.”

The $10 million figure, the mayor said, is an estimate of what it will take to provide support to receive, provide meals, temporary accommodations and medical care as well as transportation and resettlement services for incoming migrants.

The majority of the more than 9,400 migrants only have stopped for brief stays in Washington, D.C. on their way to places like New York, North Carolina and Florida. District officials said 94 families with a total of 348 migrants are staying at DC hotels that will be paid for with these new funds.

But for the several hundreds of migrants who have chosen to stick around the District, there have been no case managers tracking their whereabouts or needs.

This is a failure not only on the Texas and Arizona governors who have been sending migrants to DC but also on the part of the federal government, including the Biden White House.

“I have said frequently what we need from the federal government. I have said frequently how disappointed I am that our first need…more people on the ground to help respond to a humanitarian crisis quickly.”

Advocacy groups were elated to see the mayor create this department that will give them needed relief financially and with more structure.

“We’re glad to see that the city is putting forth resources to receive immigrants coming from the buses from Texas and Arizona, and and we look forward to working with the city to ensure that we can build the best capacity of reception,” said Abel Nunez, the Executive Director of Carecen, an immigration resource center that has helped migrants resettle here.

In addition to Bowser, other people who attended the news conference included:

  • Brianne Nadeau, Councilmember Ward 1
  • Christopher Geldart, Deputy Mayor DMPSJ
  • Kevin Donahue, City Administrator
  • Jackie Reyes, Director, Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs
  • Alexis Squire, Director, Serve DC
  • Laura Green Zeilinger, Director, DC Department of Human Services
  • Nedelka Tejada Phillips, SVP, United Way NCA
  • Rev. Msgr. John Enzler, EO/President of Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Washington