Three buses coming from Texas dropped off about 140 recent migrants — including babies and young children — near Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington, D.C., in historically frigid temperatures on Saturday evening.
The drop-off appears to be the latest example of an effort by governors in Republican-led states — including Gov. Greg Abbott — of busing migrants to liberal strongholds like New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
But immigration activists said Saturday’s incident was particularly cruel because of the freezing temperatures in the nation’s capital and because it occurred on Christmas Eve.
Madhvi Bahl, an organizer with the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, confirmed the arrival of the migrants on Saturday to NBC News. Bahl called the stunt “awful” and said that “it shows that the cruelty is the point.”
Her organization was one of several that helped provide shelter to the migrants arriving Saturday.
“D.C. was prepared and we showed up and welcomed folks, as we’ve been doing for months now,” she said.
Bahl said the three busses of approximately 140 migrants arrived from locations in Texas, including Del Rio, Laredo and Eagle Pass — all towns along the U.S.-Mexican border — and that most of the arrivals were originally from countries in Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
The buses dropped the migrants near Harris’ residence at the Naval Observatory.
There were young children and babies on the buses that arrived, though Bahl said he group did not immediately know how many. Many of the adults who arrived lacked shoes, while others wore flip-flops or sandals, she said.
Temperatures on Saturday night in some parts of Washington, D.C., reached as low as 10 degrees — one of the area’s coldest Christmas Eves in recent history.
“These people were freezing,” Bahl said.
The Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, as well as other groups, picked up the migrants and brought them to shelters where there was food and warm clothes. The group is also helping many of the arrivals find transportation to reach their final destinations.
Messages left by NBC News with Abbott’s office were not immediately returned. The Department of Homeland Security did provide a comment.
The White House, in a statement, blamed Abbott for the stunt and accused him of having “abandoned children on the side of the road in below freezing temperatures on Christmas Eve without coordinating with any Federal or local authorities.”
“This was a cruel, dangerous, and shameful stunt,” Abdullah Hasan, a White House assistant press secretary, said in a statement.
“As we have repeatedly said, we are willing to work with anyone — Republican or Democrat alike — on real solutions, like the comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures President Biden sent to Congress on his first day in office, but these political games accomplish nothing and only put lives in danger,” Hasan said.
Busloads of migrants began arriving in liberal strongholds without warning earlier this year as Abbott, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sought to use the tactic to call attention to what they say are the Biden administration’s failed border policies.
Thousands of migrants have since arrived in New York, Washington, Chicago and beyond, sending officials in those cities scrambling to provide support services to them.
Texas alone has sent nearly 15,000 migrants to other cities since April, according to a review by NBC News.
There have been several instances of migrants being dropped off outside, or near, Harris’ residence.
Associated Press contributed.