Pentagon rejects DC mayor’s request for Nationwide Guard to assist migrants arriving in nation’s capital

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin rejected the request because the Defense Department “determined that providing this support would negatively impact the readiness of the DCNG and negatively impact the organization and members,” the official said.

The official said grant funding through FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program is sufficient. “It is our understanding that SAMU First Response has received grant funding through FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program and has indicated that there are currently sufficient EFSP funds to provide assistance to migrants.”

Bowser told reporters Friday that she wants to continue working with the Pentagon to make sure political considerations “are not part of their decision.”

The Democrat, who has served as the mayor of the district during the tenure of presidents of both parties, has hinted at the use of the National Guard in the 2021 campaign. January 6 U.S. Capitol uprising: “Has experience using the D.C. National Guard. has been politicized and therefore the district is in unsafe territory,” she told reporters on Friday.

“We want to continue to work with the Department of Defense to understand our operational needs and ensure that no political considerations are part of their decision,” she added.

In a letter from the Defense Department, Bowser said the Pentagon had raised “concerns about the open-ended nature of our request and their ability to respond to it.”

“So, just looking at their letter, it seems like a more specific request would help them understand our needs,” Bowser added.

More than 6,500 migrants from Texas arrived in Washington on more than 160 buses, according to the office of Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott.

The city helped the Federal Emergency Management Agency with a $1 million grant, the mayor said at a news conference last week.

But in recent weeks, city officials and non-governmental organizations have grown increasingly concerned about the pace of arrivals. The mayor asked that the D.C. Armory, Joint Base Bolling, Fort McNair or another “appropriate federal location in the National Capital Region” be turned into a migrant processing center. A regional reception center set up to help migrants in Montgomery County, Maryland, remains open, according to the request.

“I’ve asked to deploy the Guard as long as we need the Guard to deal with a crisis that we expect will escalate,” Bowser said last week. “We expect that the number of people crossing the border seeking asylum will only increase. And we need to ensure that there is a national response, not an ad hoc, city-by-city, state-by-state response.

Bowser also highlighted the differences in D.C.’s situation compared to other states.

“We need to ask the president to use our National Guard, which we know can be very helpful in these logistical matters,” she said at the time.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez, Sonnet Swire and Colin McCullough contributed to this report.

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