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By Jasmine Wright, Priscilla Alvarez and Kate Sullivan, CNN
Biden administration officials are set to meet Friday to discuss a multitude of critical immigration issues as the administration responds to Republican governors sending migrants north in protest of President Joe Biden‘s border policies.
A White House official said the meeting had been planned prior to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sending two busloads of migrants to Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington on Thursday. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also sent two planes carrying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts on Wednesday.
Biden accused the Republicans of “playing politics with human beings” and “using them as props” in response to those stunts. The two governors have been frequent antagonists for Biden on immigration and the southern border since he came into office in January 2021.
The meeting is expected to cover issues such as operational support along the border and support in destination cities, including funding for services and housing.
Lawyers from the departments of Justice and Homeland Security are separately weighing litigation options regarding the movement of migrants out of state by Republican governors. An administration official referred CNN to the Justice Department when asked whether litigation options would specifically be discussed in Friday’s meeting.
Axios was first to report on the meeting.
Immigration has been a major issue for the Biden administration and Republicans have cited border security as a key issue ahead of the midterm elections. The US is on track to see a record high of more than 2 million encounters at the US-Mexico border by the end of the fiscal year, CNN has reported, as conditions deteriorate in Latin America. To draw attention to the issue and protest what they say are inadequate federal efforts on southern border security, several Republican officials have transported migrants to northern cities and states.
An estimated 50 migrants arrived on Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday, and officials said the group included several families with young children. In DC, dozens of migrants were left standing on the sidewalk and in the grass outside the gated US Naval Observatory in Washington on Thursday. Harris’ residence is located on Naval Observatory grounds. The migrants are asylum-seekers who have been processed by federal immigration authorities and are awaiting court dates.
The migrants were transported to Harris’ residence days after the vice president said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she was confident the border was “secure.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday denounced DeSantis’ and Abbott’s actions as a “cruel, premeditated political stunt.” Jean-Pierre accused the Florida and Texas governors of using migrants as “political pawns” and said their actions were “shameful … reckless and just plain wrong.” She said the migrants were misled about where they were being taken and what would be provided upon their arrival.
The migrants on Martha’s Vineyard will be voluntarily transported Friday to receive shelter and humanitarian support at Joint Base Cape Cod, according to Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who is also activating up to 125 National Guard to assist in the relief effort. Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is coordinating with state and local officials to ensure access to food, shelter and other essential services for the families.
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