In the midst of an escalating political debate about immigration, two buses transporting migrants were sent from Texas to a location near Vice President Kamala Harris’ house in Washington, DC, on Thursday.
The Republican governor of the state claimed that the action was deliberate and called for stricter immigration regulations.
It happens the day after Florida transferred migrants to an island off the coast of Massachusetts.
As political tension over the number of people arriving at the US-Mexico border grows, states such as Texas and Arizona have sent thousands of migrants to cities such as Chicago, New York, and Washington DC, which they accuse of failing to fully enforce immigration laws.
While legal experts say the tactic will likely be challenged in court, it remains unclear what the legal basis for such a challenge would be.
Immigration groups in both Washington DC and the wealthy Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard said they were not given an advance warning about the arrivals.
Footage shown on Fox News showed two buses – reportedly carrying between 75 and 100 people – arriving near the vice-president’s residence and migrants, who were mostly from Venezuela, gathering their belongings and standing nearby. A non-governmental organisation later came and reportedly transported them to a church.
“Harris claims our border is ‘secure’ [and] denies the crisis,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott later wrote on Twitter. “We’re sending migrants to her backyard to call on the Biden Administration to do its job and secure the border.”
‘We’re in limbo’
Among the migrants on the buses in Washington were Delinyer Mendoza and his partner Maybel, a young Venezuelan couple who arrived in the US five days ago after an arduous trek through Central America and Mexico.
While officials in Texas told the couple they were headed to Washington, the pair only learned that they were at the vice-president’s house when told by journalists.
“We didn’t know,” Maybel said. “We’re finding out about this from you all… we’re in limbo and were just going to walk around not knowing where we were.”
The pair said they planned to spend the day with a local humanitarian organisation before heading north to New York, where Mr Mendoza has family.
A local volunteer helping the migrants, Carla Bustillos, was quoted as saying that immigration organisations were only told about the arrivals at the last minute. “While we’re doing this political show, we have human beings feeling that their suffering is being exploited,” she said.