April 12, 2023 Press Release
One Year After Texas Began Busing Migrants to D.C., Hundreds are Still Excluded From Resettlement Services
Local asylum seekers and faith communities continue to advocate for accessible services for all migrants, regardless of their immigration status.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tomorrow, April 13, marks one year since the governor of Texas began busing migrants to Washington D.C. in a racist ploy to advance a xenophobic agenda. Since then, some migrants have received time-limited services in D.C. such as temporary shelter and food through the Office of Migrant Services. However, despite last week’s emergency amendment to the Migrant Services and Supports Temporary Amendment Act of 2022, hundreds of migrants in the city are still excluded from long-term services due to their immigration status.
Asylum seekers, Congregation Action Network (CAN) and other local advocacy groups applaud this step forward by the D.C. Council, but urge the city to extend these supports to all migrant neighbors in the area. Under the Migrant Services and Supports Temporary Amendment Act of 2022, recently-arrived migrants, as well as immigrants and refugees who have lived in the district for years, are not eligible for most houseless services like long-term housing and childcare vouchers.
CAN, a network of more than 50 faith communities in D.C.’s metropolitan region has been supporting these migrants since their arrival last spring. This included a press conference and lobbying in February to bring the voices of migrants being housed by the city of D.C. directly to the Council and delivery of a sign-on letter from over 30 local faith leaders. The coalition is fighting for local officials across the region to extend protection and services to all immigrants and refugees.
“The D.C. Council’s decision to exclude us from services is condemning us to cycles of poverty.” said Maryuri, a mother from Venezuela who has fought for equal access to resettlement services in D.C. “We want to prosper, not to just survive. But how can we do that when they consider us temporary and disposable? We ask that local governments don’t take the classist and racist path of exclusion, but the just path of investing more money in comprehensive services for unhoused people and that we not be excluded from accessing those services,”
“Over the last year, faith communities and volunteers have sent the clear message that we don’t see immigration as a crisis, but as an opportunity to come together as a community,” said Elias Johnson, executive director of CAN. “Now more than ever, in light of the Biden Administration’s new cruel policies blocking nearly everyone from applying for asylum in the U.S., it is crucial that our local governments don’t discriminate against residents based on their immigration status. That type of discrimination is wrong at any time, but especially appalling now.”
“I was out one night with a friend when we were attacked by a man who shot and killed her. I was able to run and save my life, but he is now looking for me because I reported the crime, and I fear for my life,” said Viviana, a woman from Colombia who has made D.C. her home. “That’s why I came to D.C. last year with my family, where I want to build a home and overcome the extreme trauma that comes with the immigrant experience. But we’re living in precarious conditions, and this trauma is intensified when you arrive in a city where those in power see you as something undesirable.”
Congregation Action Network is a coalition of faith communities in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. whose mission is to act in solidarity to end detention, deportation, profiling, and criminalization of immigrants and demand justice, dignity, safety, and family unity.
For more information, visit https://www.congregationactionnetwork.org/.