Muriel Bowser

DC Working to Establish Migrant Services Office

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said the office will provide transportation, meals and address urgent medical needs for migrants

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The D.C. government is continuing to work on setting up an Office of Migrant Services to help the thousands of asylum seekers that have come to the city since the spring, the mayor said Tuesday.

Leaders in Texas and Arizona have bused nearly 10,000 migrants to D.C. since April.

D.C. declared a public emergency on Thursday and Mayor Muriel Bowser said her administration would set up an Office of Migrant Services with an initial $10 million in government funds.

“We expect that the crisis on the border, and the responses that we see there, are kind of making us have to change the infrastructure of our city," Bowser said Tuesday.

The office will receive migrants, provide transportation, give meals and address urgent medical needs, Bowser said.

But when migrants might start to receive those benefits from the office is unclear.

“When we’re able to get a contract in place that allows us to bring in more human support," Bowser said when News4 asked about a timeline.

The D.C. Council must also approve the mayor's emergency declaration and is expected to do so next week.

“It’s of course, very late. Like, it’s five months into it happening and she’s declaring an emergency," said Madhvi Bahl, an organizer for the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network.

Bahl said D.C. should have done this months ago, rather than trying – and failing – to get the help of the National Guard.

She estimates the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network has spent more than $450,000 since migrants first stared being bused to the District.

Bahl said that, for now, the mayor’s emergency declaration hasn’t changed the day-to-day work of volunteers.

“For us, the day before she announced this was exactly the same as the day she announced this, and it was exactly the same as the next day because we still have to show up and we still have to do what we do," she said.

While D.C. has not been working in partnership with the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, it has been helping out humanitarian nonprofit SAMU First Response for months.

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