WASHINGTON - The Department of Defense is denying Mayor Muriel Bowser’s request for the D.C. National guard to step in and help with the migrant crisis in the District.
"When the Mayor of the District says she or he needs in the past or in the future – needs the D.C. National Guard to support the safe operation of our city, we expect fair consideration," Bowser said.
She wants the DOD to reconsider her request.
"If we were a state, I would’ve deployed the National Guard," Bowser adds.
In a statement shared with FOX 5, the secretary of defense declined the request because:
"This support would negatively impact the readiness of the DCNG (D.C. National Guard) and have negative effects on the organization and members."
At the moment, nonprofits and mutual aid groups meet the migrants at Union Station to assist with immediate health needs, food and temporary shelter.
In the statement, the DOD further explains their decision by saying: "We understand SAMU First Response has received grant funding through FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program, and has indicated that sufficient (EFSP) funds exist at this point to provide migrant assistance."
Tatiana Laborde, the managing director with SAMU First Response, says they do have the funds.
"We will have funding for as many migrants as we can serve. So right now, we are building up our capacity to increase services, constantly hiring and training new personnel," she explained.
Laborde says it’s going to take more than money. She says they need partnerships. Long-term solutions and support from local jurisdictions.
"We need to have regional ownership of this crisis," she said.
SAMU currently has a respite center in Montgomery County that can only take in about 50 people at a time for a short period.
FOX 5 was on the scene when a group of volunteers stopped by to feed migrants staying at a D.C. hotel.
Mayor Bowser says she will send the DOD an amended request with specifics to hopefully get the support the city needs.
"We really need federal coordination," Bowser said. "If the federal government is not going to do it, they need to at least get out of our way and give us the resources we need."