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Asylum Seekers Somewhat Welcome – Washington City Paper


Milton is trying to fit all of his worldly possessions in a brand new black duffel bag. His original pack floated away somewhere in the Rio Grande during his trip north. Since then, the 48-year-old has collected random replacements: secondhand soccer cleats, sweatpants, a new T-shirts, and blankets he received during the asylum intake process in Texas. 

Late one night in April, Milton is in the common area of Friends Place on Capitol Hill, packing for a bus trip leaving early the next morning. His ultimate destination is Camden, New Jersey, where he has family and perhaps a job waiting for him. Throughout his five-day journey, he’s kept the Camden address on slips of paper stuck in each of his pants pockets, and one inside his mouth like a corked love note to his future American self.

Milton is just one of more than 1,000 asylum seekers who Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has bused to the District over the past two months, as a way of showing opposition to President Joe Biden’s plans to lift Title 42, a Trump-era policy that forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases move through U.S. immigration courts. Texas has paid more than $1,400 for each asylum seeker bused from the Texas border to D.C., according to a recent NBC investigation, totaling a least $1.6 million in April and May alone.

“I’d never imagined coming here,” Milton says in Spanish. “I was scared of how I came here … but it’s the American dream.” 

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