Texas sends migrants to Kamala Harris's Washington residence

Move is latest by Republican governors who are opposed to Joe Biden's immigration policies

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Two busloads of migrants from the US-Mexico border arrived outside Vice President Kamala Harris's home in Washington on Thursday in the latest move by Republican governors opposed to President Joe Biden's immigration policies.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott confirmed that the buses from Texas arrived at the Naval Observatory in north-west Washington.

“VP Harris claims our border is 'secure' and denies the crisis. We’re sending migrants to her backyard to call on the Biden administration to do its job and secure the border,” Mr Abbott tweeted.

About two dozen people stood outside the Naval Observatory on Thursday morning clutching plastic bags containing their belongings. They were then moved to a local church.

One of those taken to Washington was a baby, while a diabetic migrant had to be admitted to hospital, said Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

“They were just literally dumped like human garbage in front of the vice president's house,” Mr Garcia said from the Naval Observatory.

Most of the migrants in front of Ms Harris's house were fleeing oppressive regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba.

Mr Garcia said the migrants, who crossed the US border from Mexico, legally entered the country after being processed by immigration officials and temporarily released on humanitarian parole.

The move from the Republican governor comes a day after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took credit for sending a group of migrants to the wealthy island of Martha's Vineyard.

“We are not a sanctuary state, and it's better to be going to a sanctuary jurisdiction. And yes, we will help facilitate that transfer for you to go to greener pastures,” Mr DeSantis said on Thursday during a Florida for Truckers event.

Sanctuary cities are those whose laws protect undocumented migrants from deportation regardless of federal immigration law unless a serious crime is involved.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said short-term assistance was being provided to the migrants. Dylan Fernandes, a state representative for Martha's Vineyard, said the community has stepped in to provide food, water and other resources.

“These immigrants were not met with chaos, they were met with compassion. We are a community and nation that is stronger because of immigrants,” Mr Fernandes tweeted.

Texas and Arizona have already sent thousands of migrants to Democratic strongholds such as New York City, Chicago and Washington. Leaders of the two border states said those areas should take more people because they have encouraged migrants to come by failing to enforce immigration laws.

Illinois officials earlier this week said about 500 migrants from Central and South America had arrived at Chicago's Union Station since August. Governor JB Pritzker declared a state of emergency last week to free up resources to respond to the crisis.

Mr Garcia said that immigrants are being used as “political piñatas” before the US midterm elections.

“And again, it's deplorable. And it's really inhumane to treat people like that. These are human beings and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” he said, noting that the US was celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.

Martha's Vineyard, a summer holiday destination, has a year-round population of only 20,000 people. Mr Fernandes said the migrants had arrived in the community without them knowing where they had been sent.

“Many don't know where they are. They say they were told they would be given housing and jobs,” he said.

Consent is needed from migrants before states move them, though some accept it because the journey takes them closer to their intended destinations.

Drawing reference to the 51 migrants who were found dead in the back of a lorry in San Antonio, Texas, earlier this year, Mr Garcia of the League of United Latin American Citizens said Congress must begin treating immigration as a humanitarian issue.

“So unless we fix his broken immigration system, it's not going to change,” he said.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: September 16, 2022, 8:05 PM
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