Partisan politics in US leads to the cruel treatment of migrants on freezing Christmas Eve
On the coldest Christmas Eve ever recorded in Washington, D.C., roughly 140 migrants were dropped off outside the residence of US Vice President Kamala Harris.
The migrants, including women and children, reportedly arrived in three buses at the Naval Observatory, where Harris lives in the US capital, on Saturday night.
Migrants Freezing in Winter
The arrivals included asylum seekers from a number of Central American and Caribbean countries. Some of them were not wearing adequate winter clothes while Washington, D.C. was witnessing the coldest Christmas in more than two decades.
According to videos circulated on social media, the migrants – allegedly sent from the US state of Texas – were given white blankets to keep themselves warm while waiting to be transferred to a local church.
Washington, D.C. had a cold weather emergency alert in place throughout the Christmas weekend due to a historic winter storm, with government officials asking residents to limit their time outdoors and dress warmly.
Amy Fischer, the organizer of a US migrant aid network, said that the migrants "don't have coats" and that "they don't have clothes for this kind of weather, and they're freezing."
Texas Governor behind Ruthless Move
Fischer's network tweeted on Sunday that it was Texas Governor Greg Abbott who bused the shelter-seekers outside the official residence of Harris in freezing cold.
Abbott is among at least three Republican governors who have transferred migrants from their states to cities led by Democrats this year to protest US President Joe Biden's immigration policies and what they called federal inaction to secure America's southern border.
His office said last month that the Texas state government is "taking aggressive action to aid border communities," including busing thousands of migrants to Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
White House spokesperson Abdullah Hasan pointed a finger at the Abbott administration, calling the busing of migrants "a cruel, dangerous, and shameful stunt."
"Governor Abbott abandoned children on the side of the road in below-freezing temperatures on Christmas Eve without coordinating with any federal or local authorities," Hasan said.
Victims of US Partisan Politics
While the White House spokesperson claimed that the federal government has done what is needed to tackle the immigrant issue, state government like Abbott's continues complaining about the administration's failure on the problem.
"We are willing to work with anyone – Republican or Democrat alike – on real solutions, like the comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures President Biden sent to Congress on his first day in office," Hasan said. "But these political games accomplish nothing and only put lives in danger."
Abbott's spokesperson, Renae Eze, responded in a statement on Monday that "the White House is full of a bunch of hypocrites led by the Hypocrite-in-Chief who has been flying planeloads of migrants across the country and oftentimes in the cover of night."
Eze stated: "These migrants willingly chose to go to Washington, D.C., having signed a voluntary consent waiver available in multiple languages upon boarding that they agreed on the destination."
Abbott penned a letter to Biden last week, demanding that his administration "immediately deploy federal assets to address the dire border crisis", particularly in El Paso, a border city with Mexico.
"These communities and the state are ill-equipped to do the job assigned to the federal government – house the thousands of migrants flooding into the country every day," the letter read.
"The need to address this crisis is not the job of border states like Texas," Abbott wrote, urging the US president to defend the borders and regulate the nation's immigration.
US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is tasked with protecting the country's borders, said in a statement on Saturday: "Individuals and families attempting to enter without authorization are being expelled, as required by court order under the Title 42 public health authority, or placed into removal proceedings."
The DHS referred to a policy that allows US border officials to swiftly expel migrants and asylum-seekers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court temporarily halted the expiration of Title 42.
Abbott's office said thousands of individuals illegally cross into Texas every day and those numbers are expected to increase if Title 42 expulsions end.
"Texas is left to pick up the pieces of the border disaster caused by the Biden administration," Abbott said in an interview with Fox News.
Biden previously accused Abbott and other Republican state officials of "playing politics with human beings."
"What they're doing is simply wrong," he said during an event in September. "It's reckless and we have a process in place to manage migrants at the border."
According to Alejandro Portes, a University of Miami law professor, there are 12 million undocumented immigrants already in the US and every attempt to bring about some process of regularization has been blocked in Congress by the far-right wing of the Republican Party over the past several administrations.