(The Hill) — Arizona began busing migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to Washington, D.C., this week, joining Texas in a protest over the Biden administration’s policies on immigration and border control.
The first bus arrived in the capital on Wednesday, loaded with 20 migrants who volunteered for the trip, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s communications director, C.J. Karamargin, told the local news outlet the state will bus as many migrants as needed. And however much the new busing program costs the state, Arizona will push the federal government to pick up the tab.
The Hill has reached out to Ducey’s office for comment.
Ducey also announced the effort in a statement on Wednesday, saying communities were being stretched thin in responding to a border surge with “little action or assistance from the federal government.”
According to the governor, migrants who enter Arizona seeking asylum can choose to be bused and will be provided meals and staffing support during the roughly 2,000-mile trip to the Capitol.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has sent at least 10 buses to D.C. since he announced he was busing migrants last month. His directive followed border patrol agents encountering more than 220,000 migrants in March, the largest number recorded since 2000.
Republican governors, including Ducey and Abbott, formed a “Border Strike Force” team to combat the surge after accusing the federal government of inaction.
Border states are also furious over Biden’s announcement that he will lift Title 42, a Trump-era policy that allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the border and blocks them from seeking asylum.
Ducey said last month Arizona was suffering from “the worst border crisis in over 20 years” and his state was spending an additional $105 million on top of frequent border-related costs.
“The Biden administration and Congress have turned a blind eye to our southern border for over a year now, and it’s devastating our communities,” he said in a statement.
In response to Abbott’s move, outgoing White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the busing of migrants a “publicity stunt.”
Migrants who request asylum in Arizona are processed at Border Patrol facilities and either detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement or released to a sponsor in the U.S.
Other migrants end up at shelters operating across the state, including in Tucson, Phoenix and Yuma.