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A group's work to help migrants who were sent to Kamala Harris' home on Christmas Eve


Late last night here in Washington, D.C., where temperatures were well below freezing, several buses of migrants traveling from Texas were dropped off at Vice President Kamala Harris' official residence. While no state leader has confirmed their involvement, the drop-off is similar to recent actions made by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as a way of drawing attention to the White House's immigration policies. One of the organizations on the ground who met with the migrants last night was Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, a collection of aid groups helping migrants in Washington, D.C. Amy Fischer is a core organizer with the network, and she was on the ground last night as migrants arrived in D.C. Amy Fischer, welcome to the program.

AMY FISCHER: Hi. Thank you for having me.

LIMBONG: All right, so, to start, could you give us a picture of what you and your team encountered last night?

FISCHER: Sure. So we, on Friday, heard from our partner at - an NGO at the border. And so on Friday, we heard that buses were arriving. Last night, we ensured that there was a church and a synagogue ready to go to serve as respite sites and provide volunteers as well as volunteers from our network. So we had volunteers ready to meet the buses and then immediately transfer onto buses that were provided by the city to transport them to a church that had volunteers, community, hot food, clothes waiting for people, toys for the kiddos. And then from there, we helped talk to everybody and help them on their way, whether it was helping with transportation for them to get to their final destination or providing ongoing support for those that are choosing to stay in D.C.

LIMBONG: As we're talking to you, I believe you were just on your way to dropping off two migrants to a bus station. I'm curious. What were they saying? What were you talking to them about?

FISCHER: The two people that I just dropped off on a bus that's heading to New York came here from Peru and were just so excited to be greeted by kindness and greeted by community. They were taking pictures of the U.S. Capitol as we were walking into Union Station and were excited to, you know, get to their family awaiting them in New York.

LIMBONG: You know, I think a lot of the criticisms behind these bus drop-off maneuvers have been that they're kind of, like, more political ploys, right? But I actually talked to someone who was saying - who made the point that this is actually kind of helpful to some migrants, right? It helps them get from point A to point B along - on their journey. Do you have a take on that?

FISCHER: That's exactly right. I mean, communities that have been supporting migrants for years have been calling on the federal government to do more to assist with people's transportation to get to their final destination. And while we know that Governor Abbott's intentions behind the bussing is really rooted in racism and xenophobia and invasionist (ph) rhetoric, the - at the end of the day, everybody that arrived here last night was able to get free transportation on a charter bus that got them closer to their final destination.

LIMBONG: And so what's next for these migrants?

FISCHER: They have to work through their asylum proceedings to try and stay in the United States permanently and really find a way to build a life in their new communities. At the border, the Department of Homeland Security seizes their documents so they don't have passports, they don't have a way to identify themselves, they don't have work permits. So it's quite difficult for them to get jobs and get settled. But if that's - I think that's very much their intention, is to find ways to build new lives here in the United States.

LIMBONG: That was Amy Fischer, a core organizer with the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, an organization that was on the ground to offer aid to migrants as they arrived in Washington, D.C., late last night. Amy Fischer, thanks so much for joining us.

FISCHER: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lennon Sherburne