Biden officials meet to coordinate administration response to GOP governors sending migrants north

A White House official said the meeting was arranged before Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent two busloads of immigrants to Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington on Thursday. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also sent two planes carrying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts on Wednesday.

Biden has accused Republicans of “playing politics with people” and “using them as props” to answer those mistakes. The two governors have been frequent antagonists on immigration and the southern border since Biden took office in January 2021.

The meeting is expected to cover issues such as operational support across the border and support in destination cities, including funding for services and housing.

Attorneys for the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are separately considering possible lawsuits by Republican governors over moving migrants out of state. An administration official referred CNN to the Justice Department when asked whether prosecution options would be specifically discussed at Friday’s meeting.
Axios was the first to report the meeting.
Immigration has been a major issue for the Biden administration and Republicans have cited border security as a top issue ahead of the midterm elections. The US is on track to see a record number of more than 2 million encounters at the US-Mexico border by the end of the fiscal year, CNN reports, as conditions in Latin America worsen. To draw attention to the issue and protest what they say are inadequate federal efforts to secure the southern border, several Republican officials have transported migrants to northern cities and states.
About 50 migrants arrived on Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday, and officials said the group included several families with young children. In DC, dozens of migrants were left standing on the sidewalk and grass outside the US Naval Observatory in Washington on Thursday. Harris’ headquarters is on the grounds of the Naval Observatory. Migrants are asylum seekers who have been processed by federal immigration authorities and are awaiting court dates.

The migrants were taken to Harris’ residence after the vice president said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he was confident the border was “secure.”

Second-in-command Doug Emhoff told CNN Friday that Abbott’s sending of migrants to the vice president’s residence was “disgraceful.”

“These are human beings, these are people. They should have been treated with dignity, kindness and respect and they weren’t,” said Emhoff.

He continued: “And we have so-called leaders in this country who, instead of focusing on what is good for the public in their states, are using their people as pawns for a political mistake.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday denounced the actions of DeSantis and Abbott as “premeditated and cruel political mistakes.” Jean-Pierre accused the governors of Florida and Texas of using migrants as “political pawns” and their actions are “shameful…responsible and empty”. He said the migrants were misled about where they were being taken and what they would be given on arrival.

Migrants from Martha’s Vineyard will be voluntarily transported to Joint Base Cape Cod on Friday for shelter and humanitarian aid, according to Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker, who is also activating 125 National Guardsmen to help with the relief effort. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is coordinating with state and local officials to ensure families have access to food, shelter and other essential services.