Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents found 73 illegal immigrants in homes believed to be operated by human smugglers in an affluent area of Washington D.C.
Sixty adults and 13 children were found living across six residential homes in D.C.’s northwest area, where the median home price is $750,000, NBC News reported. The news outlet reviewed internal documents from ICE, which didn’t list the addresses of the homes where the people were kept or how many were housed in a single home.
Illegal immigrants are regularly brought into the U.S. by human smugglers, who often charge thousands of dollars and are tied to drug cartels. These smugglers keep the immigrants hidden in places known as “stash houses,” NBC reported, usually in poor conditions without beds, running water, or air conditioning. The outlet noted that these homes aren’t usually so far from the U.S.-Mexico border.
The news comes shortly after President Joe Biden’s administration agreed to fill gaps in part of the border wall, The Daily Wire reported. The decision was made even though Biden promised during the 2020 campaign that his administration would stop all future construction of a border wall.
The Department of Homeland Security said in a press release on Thursday that Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had authorized the closure of “four gaps located within an incomplete border barrier project near the Morelos Dam in the U.S. Border Patrol’s Yuma Sector.” The press release noted that this section of the border, with its close proximity to the Colorado River, presented a safety risk to illegal immigrants trying to cross into the U.S.
The decision to close gaps in the wall in Arizona, where Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly faces re-election in November, also comes after Texas Governor Greg Abbott began sending illegal immigrants from Texas to Washington, D.C.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday called Texas and Arizona’s move to send illegal immigrants to a Democrat-controlled city “a humanitarian crisis,” prompting a response from Abbott.
“With pledges from Texas and Arizona to continue these abhorrent operations indefinitely, the situation is dire, and we consider this a humanitarian crisis — one that could overwhelm our social support network without immediate and sustained federal intervention,” Bowser wrote in a letter requesting help from the National Guard to control the situation.
“We’ve had a number of discussions,” she added. “We’ve facilitated FEMA’s involvement with a million dollar grant that has now been increased to work with a lead nonprofit agency. We’ve facilitated using those grant funds to set up respite center in a neighboring jurisdiction and I’ve also asked the Secretary of the Army to deploy the D.C. National Guard to help lead that effort.”
Abbott tweeted in response, saying “D.C. is experiencing a fraction of the disastrous impact the border crisis has caused Texas.”
“Mayor Bowser should stop attacking Texas for securing the border & demand Joe Biden do his job,” he added.