WASHINGTON (HPD) — Three buses carrying migrant families from Texas arrived near the home of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Christmas Eve in unprecedented cold.
Texas authorities have not confirmed their involvement in the move, but the action was similar to previous moves organized by border state governors to draw attention to the immigration policies of the Joe Biden administration.
The buses arrived Saturday night in front of the vice president’s residence, carrying between 110 and 130 people, according to Tatiana Laborde, CEO of SAMU First Response, an aid agency that works with the city of Washington to serve thousands of migrants who have been brought in in recent months.
Local organizers expected the buses to arrive on Sunday, but learned on Saturday that the group would arrive in Washington early, Laborde added. Families include young children.
Some wore only T-shirts despite temperatures hovering around minus 9 degrees Celsius (15 degrees Fahrenheit). It was the coldest Christmas Eve on record in the US capital, according to the Washington Post.
Laborde reported that they had blankets ready for people who arrived on Christmas Eve and quickly transferred them to other waiting buses to take them to an area church. A local restaurant chain donated dinner and breakfast for the families.
Most of the new arrivals were headed for other destinations and were expected to stay in Washington only briefly.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office did not respond to requests for comment Sunday morning. However, his office reported last week that Texas has provided bus rides for more than 15,000 people since April to Washington, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.
Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, both Republicans, are strong critics of President Biden for the way he has handled the issue of the US-Mexico border, where thousands of people try to cross daily, many looking for asylum. Officials on both sides of the border are seeking emergency help to set up shelters and services for migrants, some of whom are sleeping on the streets.
Republicans argue that Biden and Harris — designated as the federal government’s go-to person to attack the root causes of migration — have relaxed certain restrictions, prompting many people to leave their home countries. Biden ended some policies but upheld others enacted by former President Donald Trump, whose administration has also dealt with spikes in border crossings and at one point separated immigrant families and children as a deterrent.
White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan called the migrant transports “a cruel, dangerous and shameful political stunt.”
“As we have said multiple times, we are willing to work with anyone — whether Republican or Democrat — to get real solutions, like comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures that President Biden sent to Congress on his first day in office, but these political games accomplish nothing more than endangering lives,” Hasan said in a statement on Sunday.