Pentagon rejects second request from D.C. mayor for National Guard help with migrants bused from Texas and Arizona

The Pentagon has rejected a second request from District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser for the deployment of the D.C. National Guard to help receive and shelter migrants bused into the city from states like Texas and Arizona. 

In a letter to Bowser Monday, the Pentagon said the D.C. Guard is not trained or equipped to care for migrants, and the D.C. Armory is not air conditioned, making it unsuitable to accommodate anyone overnight, according to a copy of the letter reviewed by CBS News. 

The Department of Defense in its letter also acknowledged it is aware of concerns associated with uniformed military personnel in direct contact with migrants in a domestic operation. 

“The DC National Guard has no specific experience in or training for this kind of mission or unique skills for providing facility management, feeding, sanitation, or ground support,” the letter states. 

In April, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott started putting migrants on buses to D.C. to protest the Biden administration’s efforts to end Title 42, a pandemic-related emergency policy that enables border agents to expel migrants quickly. Since then, Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, also a Republican, followed Abbott’s lead and started busing migrants to the nation’s capital. 

The Pentagon rejected Bowser’s first request for the guard, saying it would negatively impact troop readiness and noted that the NGOs receiving and supporting migrants arriving into the capital have received sufficient funding through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants. 

In her second request, Bowser specified the guard would help for 90 days, but the Pentagon said this amount of time would still impact the readiness of troops and their families. 

The Pentagon’s second rejection letter on Monday to Bowser added the detail that approving such a request would force D.C. Guard to cancel or disrupt training exercises through the fall. 

“In contrast to the civilian-led approaches to migrant reception mentioned above, use of DCNG personnel would be inappropriate to the task, regardless of the duration or number of personnel involved,” the letter from the Pentagon states. 

In response to the Defense Department’s decision, Bowser said in a tweet that the city would “continue working with federal partners and local NGOs on the best way to set up systems that allow us to manage an ongoing humanitarian crisis.”

And, she added that “we will continue fighting for DC statehood so that, in the future, when the Mayor of DC says that we need the support of the DC National Guard, she has the ability to deploy the Guard.”

The governors of Texas and Arizona are also busing migrants to New York City. 

A DHS spokesperson in a statement told CBS News that the Biden administration has been in touch with both the D.C. and New York City mayors, and FEMA regional administrators and have been meeting on site to coordinate available support to help receive and shelter the migrants arriving in the cities.

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