Sep 7, 2023 - News

D.C. still struggling to manage growing migrant crisis

Migrants walking toward Union Station in D.C.

Migrants have been sent to D.C. on buses since last summer. Photo: Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Migrants are continuing to arrive in D.C., a humanitarian crisis that's also playing out in other big cities and putting pressure on President Biden to do more.

Why it matters: The influx of migrants arriving on buses from the southern border is stressing D.C.'s social services and requiring tens of millions in new spending to meet demand.

Zoom in: One year ago, Mayor Muriel Bowser criticized the Biden administration for not offering more aid to handle hundreds of migrants being bused into the city. Many of those concerns remain.

  • About 60 busloads of asylum seekers have arrived in D.C. since May, according to the nonprofit group SAMU First Response, the Washington Post reported.
  • More than 1,000 people are still housed in hotels, down by a few hundred since May.

The big picture: Biden is stuck among growing calls to help the Democratic-controlled cities, the politics of the vulnerable issue, and what the administration views as legal handcuffs prohibiting much action, our Axios colleagues recently reported.

How we got here: Republican governors have responded to unprecedented crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border with massive efforts to bus migrants to other destinations.

  • People on the ground tell Axios that's created a snowball effect, leading more migrants to follow those who were placed on state-backed buses to major cities.

In cities like New York, Boston, and Chicago, a humanitarian crisis for people hoping for new lives in the U.S. has become desperate.

  • Business leaders and lawmakers at various levels of government are demanding that the administration do more to help accommodate migrants — and are frustrated by what they say is Biden's lack of response.

By the numbers: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said this week that the state's busing operation has sent more than 11,300 migrants to D.C. since it began last year.

  • According to DHS, more than 2,000 migrants have received temporary shelter in D.C. so far, the Post reports. But that number could be higher since some turn to homeless shelters.
  • D.C. has spent $36.4 million on helping migrants through the end of August, on pace to surpass $52.5 million by October, the D.C. Department of Human Services told the Post.

Between the lines: While buses of migrants are still being sent to D.C., it's "not to the degree or quantity that they have sent before," city administrator Kevin Donahue told the Post.

  • And many arriving in the District are often looking to leave for another destination, he said.

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