(CNN) — The first migrants transported by bus from Texas arrived at Union Station in Washington on Wednesday morning, after Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he would send the migrants to the capital in a rejection of the president’s border policies. United States, Joe Biden.
Catholic Charities DC had staff at Union Station on Wednesday morning when the migrants were dropped off to provide assistance, according to Kate Kennedy, head of communications for that organization, which provides a range of services such as food assistance and medical care, in addition to others. social services in the Washington metropolitan area.
Abbott, a Republican, is a harsh critic of the Biden administration’s immigration policies and has tried to make headlines with his countermeasures. He confirmed the migrants’ arrival in a press release saying, “By busing migrants to Washington DC, the Biden administration will be able to more immediately address the needs of the people they are allowing to cross our border. Texas should not have to bear the burden of the Biden administration’s failure to secure our border.”
Five migrants who spoke to CNN said they were from Venezuela and had arrived at the US-Mexico border on Sunday. They are applying for asylum and were released from custody while they go through their immigration paperwork.
After being released, the migrants said they were offered a bus ride to Washington. The trip was voluntary and lasted more than 30 hours, according to the migrants themselves. They were provided with food and water, and although the journey was long, the migrants said it was a good journey.
“They treated us well,” said Juan Luis Rondón Martínez, a migrant from Venezuela who came on the bus.
Catholic Charities DC bought bus tickets for the migrants to travel to other cities, including Miami.
“They’re tired, they’re hungry. They need clothes, they need a shower. They need a change of clothes and a shower,” said Sister Charlotte Wagner of Catholic Charities DC.
Neither the Department of Homeland Security nor US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immediately responded to CNN’s requests for comment.
Once an immigrant is processed by federal authorities and released from custody, they are allowed to move around the country while undergoing immigration court proceedings. An immigration judge will ultimately decide whether they are allowed to remain in the United States or be deported.
At their final destination, they are expected to report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an ICE official said.
Abbott first announced his intention to send immigrants to Washington last Wednesday, drawing rebuke from immigrant rights advocates. At a press conference, the Texas Republican had said his state would send buses full of undocumented immigrants to the steps of the United States Capitol, in response to the Biden administration’s announcement that it would lift the pandemic-era health order. that allowed immigration officials to turn immigrants back at the border.