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By Lolita C. Baldor | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon rejected a request from the District of Columbia seeking National Guard assistance in what the mayor has called a “growing humanitarian crisis” prompted by thousands of migrants being bused to the city from two southern states.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin declined to provide Guard personnel and the use of the D.

C. Armory to assist with the reception of migrants into the city, according to U.S. defense officials. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that the district may send an amended, “more specific” request, adding that she believes this is the first time a D.C. request for National Guard has been denied.

One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision not yet made public, said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s food and shelter program has provided funding for the problem, and has indicated those funds are sufficient at this point.

Bowser, the district’s Democratic mayor, formally asked the White House last month for an open-ended deployment of 150 National Guard members per day as well as a “suitable federal location” for a mass housing and processing center, mentioning the D.C. Armory as a logical candidate.

During the spring, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, both Republicans, announced plans to send busloads of migrants to Washington, D.C., in response to President Joe Biden’s decision to lift a pandemic-era emergency health order that restricted migrant entry numbers by denying them a chance to seek asylum. The rule remains in effect under court order.
On Friday, Abbott said the first group of migrants from his state had now been bused to New York as well.

As of mid-July, about 5,200 migrants had been bused from Texas to D.C. since April. As of Aug. 3, more than 1,300 had been sent from Arizona since May. The governors call the practice a voluntary free ride – paid for by state taxpayers — that gets migrants closer to family or support networks.

But Bowser last month dismissed that characterization, saying that the asylum-seekers are being “tricked,” as many don’t get close enough to their final destinations and some are ditched at Union Station near the U.S. Capitol and the White House. Often they arrive with no resources and no clue what to do next.

On Friday, Bowser told reporters that the Pentagon appears to be concerned “about the open-ended nature of our request.” and that a more specific one would help.

“We want to continue to work with the Department of Defense so that they understand our operational needs and to assure that political considerations are not a part of their decision,” Bowser said, adding that she believes the “crisis” will only worsen. “We need the National Guard. If we were a state, I would have already done it.”

A coalition of local charitable groups has been working to feed and shelter the migrants, aided by a $1 million grant from FEMA. But organizers have been warning that both their resources and personnel were nearing exhaustion.

“This reliance on NGOs is not working and is unsustainable — they are overwhelmed and underfunded,” Bowser said in her letter. She has repeatedly stated that the influx is stressing her government’s ability to care for its own homeless residents and now requires a federal response.

Bowser sharply criticized Abbott and Ducey, accusing them of “cruel political gamesmanship” and saying the pair had “decided to use desperate people to score political points.”

Explaining his decision to add New York City as a destination, Abbott said that Biden’s “refusal to acknowledge the crisis caused by his open border policies” forced Texas to “take unprecedented action to keep our communities safe.”

He said the migrants are being dropped off at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

“In addition to Washington, D.C., New York City is the ideal destination for these migrants, who can receive the abundance of city services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams has boasted about within the sanctuary city,” Abbott said.

In response, Fabien Levy, spokesman for Adams, tweeted that Abbott’s “continued use of human beings as political pawns is disgusting. NYC will continue to welcome asylum seekers w/ open arms, as we have always done, but we still need support from DC.”

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As mayor of D.C., Bowser does not have the authority to personally order a National Guard deployment, an issue that has become emotionally charged in recent years as a symbol of the district’s entrenched status as less than a state.

Her limited authority played a role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. When it became clear that Capitol Police were overmatched by the crowds, Bowser couldn’t immediately deploy the district guard. Instead, crucial time was lost while the request was considered inside the Pentagon, and protesters rampaged through the building.

Associated Press writer Ashraf Khalil in Washington, Karen Matthews in New York City and Bob Christie in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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4 things we learned about the Chicago Bears offensive line, including Teven Jenkins at right guard and Braxton Jones clear vision

The Chicago Bears continued to test Teven Jenkins at right guard Tuesday during their final practice before Thursday’s preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks.

One day after getting second-team reps at the position, Jenkins took first-team reps there as the Bears try to find the right combination for their offensive line.

Before and after practice, coach Matt Eberflus, offensive line coach Chris Morgan and left guard Cody Whitehair talked about Jenkins’ move from tackle and several other topics. Here are four things we heard.

1. Morgan thinks Jenkins has the attributes to excel at guard.

The Bears have stressed the need to get their five best offensive linemen on the field as they tinker with different options.

Rookie Braxton Jones is getting an extended look at left tackle, and Riley Reiff and Larry Borom have split reps at right tackle — and can play on either side. So Jenkins’ best bet to earn a roster spot might be showing the versatility to play guard and tackle.

The Bears have other options too. Veteran Michael Schofield started at right guard in the preseason opener, and Sam Mustipher also can play there, though he has been at center while Lucas Patrick is injured. But Morgan said the coaches are excited to see what Jenkins can show them, and it will be worth watching how they use him against the Seahawks.

“He’s got great size,” Morgan said. “He’s got good strength. He’s a smart football player. Those are all things you want inside, that translate inside. Things move fast inside.”

Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said Monday that guards carry a bigger mental load in his system and thinks Jenkins, a 2021 second-round pick out of Oklahoma State, can handle it. Whitehair is lending advice wherever he can as Jenkins dives into the new role.

“There’s just a lot more getting to the second level, making sure that you’re on the same page with protection calls and stuff like that,” Whitehair said of the challenges in Getsy’s system. “The other systems I was in, you didn’t quite have to use your eyes as much at guard. But there’s a lot of responsibility that your eyes have to be right as far as getting to the second level and seeing different blitzes.”

Eberflus called Jenkins a smart, athletic player, adding he has told his staff not to put a ceiling on a player. It’s a mantra Eberflus learned from one of his mentors, and he applied it to Jenkins trying to learn a new position after missing significant time at tackle last season with a back injury and some practices this training camp with an undisclosed injury.

“Let him grow. Let him do his thing because some people mature and grow at different times and all of a sudden they just grow into a really good NFL player,” Eberflus said. “And that’s for any position. We’re never going to put ceilings on guys. We’re always going to think the best for every player.”

2. Whitehair already is sold on Jones becoming a good player.

Jones has been with the Bears for only three-plus months, but the fifth-round pick from Southern Utah clearly has won over some people in his quest to be the starting left tackle, a job that could have gone to Reiff, Borom or Jenkins.

“Our department did a really good job of finding him,” Whitehair said. “They knew what they were looking for. I think they found a good one in him.

“The way he studies, the way he understands stuff. He’s very athletic, he’s got great length, he uses his hands well. I really like where Braxton’s at right now. He’s only going to continue to grow and I’m really excited to see that growth.”

Morgan said Jones is wired to get better every day, so he wasn’t surprised how quickly the rookie caught on.

“He really has a clear vision of his process,” Morgan said. “He has a clear vision of how he wants to attack it. He’s got a clear vision of how to measure himself day to day.”

3. Rookie center Doug Kramer is out with a lower leg injury.

Eberflus didn’t specify what Kramer’s injury was after the lineman missed practice Monday and Tuesday, but he said Kramer would be out for an extended period. The team placed Kramer on injured reserve Tuesday.

The Tribune’s Brad Biggs reported the team feared it could be a Lisfranc injury in Kramer’s foot, which would put his season in jeopardy.

Kramer, a 2022 sixth-round pick out of Illinois, played 73% of the offensive snaps in the preseason opener. He had been backing up Mustipher at center.

4. Morgan is happy with how Borom remade his body.

As the Bears seek to become quicker and lighter on the offensive line, Borom said his target weight of 320 is about 15 pounds lighter than last season.

Morgan praised the way Borom went about remaking his body and pointed to his even mindset as an attribute that has helped him as he works at both tackle spots.

“Larry did a heck of a job in the offseason putting himself in position to come out and compete,” Morgan said. “You just appreciate his mindset. He is going to try to get better every day.

“He has a great day, it doesn’t matter. He had a bad day, it doesn’t matter. I commend him on that. That’s a mental toughness attribute to me, and he’s doing a really nice job of jumping from right to left.”

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