National

What’s behind governors busing migrants from the border to other states

On Wednesday night, dozens of migrants were flown to Martha’s Vineyard, a luxury destination just outside solidly blue Massachusetts, by Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Ray Ewing/AP

Most arrived with just one bag after a long journey to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Ray Ewing/AP

Republican governors are escalating a campaign against President Biden’s border policies by flying and busing migrant to Democratic-led states or liberal enclaves.

Ray Ewing/AP

Ray Ewing/AP

DeSantis vowed to continue the flights during a news conference saying, “If you have folks that are inclined to think Florida is a good place, our message to them is we are not a sanctuary state.”

Ray Ewing/AP

Democratic Rep. William R. Keating, who represents Martha’s Vineyard and other parts of southeastern Massachusetts, said DeSantis is treating the migrants like “political chattel.”

Ray Ewing/AP

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been busing migrants out of Texas to cities with Democratic mayors as part of a political strategy this year because he says there are too many arrivals over the border to his state.

Jim Lo Scalzp/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Jim Lo Scalzp/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Then, on Thursday morning two buses arriving from Texas stopped in front of the National Observatory, home to Vice President Harris.

Jim Lo Scalzp/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The buses — carrying about 100 migrants from Venezuela, Colombia and other Latin American countries — were a message from Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to Harris in response to a statement about border security she made on national TV over the weekend.

Jim Lo Scalzp/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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Reuters

“The border is secure,” Harris told NBC News anchor Chuck Todd, adding that “we still have a lot to fix” with an immigration system that has become politicized.

Reuters

Republican Governors such as Abbott, DeSantis and Arizona’s Doug Doucey have been sending migrants to what they call “sanctuary” cities in hopes of embarrassing the Biden administration over its “lax” border policies.

Reuters

Migrants arrive at the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition in Del Rio, Tex., on Aug.11. Many migrants bused by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott leave from Del Rio.

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post

These were two of the latest twists in a political drama involving thousands of migrants seeking U.S. asylum from struggling countries like Venezuela or Cuba.

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post

Alejandra Pinto spoke to The Washington Post earlier this month about why she and her family left Venezuela.

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post

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Hope Davison/Washington, D.C.

Alejandra and her family are among the nearly 10,000 migrants who arrived in D.C. via buses from Texas and Arizona since the spring.

Hope Davison/Washington, D.C.

Most have gone on to other locations in the Northeast, such as Pennsylvania or New Jersey.

Hope Davison/Washington, D.C.

But, with an increasing number choosing to stay in D.C., the influx moved Democratic Mayor Muriel E. Bowser to declare the situation a public emergency last week.

Hope Davison/Washington, D.C.

Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, spoke to reporters outside Harris’s residence calling the move “inhumane” and accused Abbott of “using human beings, babies, families, as political piñatas.”

Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The declaration was a formality for releasing $10 million in city funds to help the migrants.

Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

But it was also an acknowledgment that the Biden administration would not be playing a more active role in this issue after the Pentagon twice rejected Bowser’s request for National Guard troops to step in.

Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Rafael Eduardo, left, from Venezuela, hugs another migrant outside of the St. Andrews Episcopal Church, on Martha’s Vineyard.

Dominic Chavez/For The Washington Post

Dominic Chavez/For The Washington Post

On Thursday, Democrats and immigration advocates slammed Abbott and DeSantis, both of whom are potential presidential candidates, for using people in search of assistance from the U.S. government as political pawns.

Dominic Chavez/For The Washington Post

Their Republican supporters, meanwhile, cheered them on in social media.

Dominic Chavez/For The Washington Post

Alejandra Pinto, left and her husband, David Hernandez, sit in the doorway of the Days Inn hotel room they share with their two children as other migrant children play nearby.

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post

Since arriving in D.C., Alejandra and her husband — a former Venezuelan soldier — have started working at a construction site, saving up their money to find a more permanent home.

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post

They recently filled out school enrollment paperwork for the children.

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post

Alejandra’s daughter plays with other children at a Days Inn on Aug. 17.

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post

“I want to elevate myself,” said Alejandra, a former office receptionist in Caracas. “I want my children to have stability.”

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post

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Credits

Editing and production by Kainaz Amaria. Photo editing by Max Bercherer. Video editing by Joy Yi.