Lever Alejos arrived in the nation’s capital last week on a bus with dozens of fellow Venezuelans who had journeyed more than 1,300 miles from their broken country to the United States. Most had braved poisonous plants and thugs as they trudged through dense jungle on the Colombian border and waded in water up to their chins to cross the Rio Grande into Texas, some clutching babies.
After being processed by U.S. border authorities, the undocumented migrants were released into South Texas, free to go where they wanted. Mr. Alejos, 28, said he was offered two options: a $50 bus ride to San Antonio or a free bus ride to Washington, D.C., paid for by the State of Texas. “I wanted San Antonio, but I had run out of money,” said Mr. Alejos, who has no family in the United States. “I boarded the bus to Washington.”
A few days later, he arrived in the nation’s capital, among a busload of weary migrants. He spent the first night in the plaza across from Union Station but eventually found a bed at Central Union Mission, where he hopes to stay until he can apply for asylum, get a work permit and find a job — a process that could take months.
A political tactic by the governors of Texas and Arizona to offload the problems caused by record levels of migration at the border is beginning to hit home in Washington, as hundreds of undocumented migrants arriving on the governors’ free bus rides each week increasingly tax the capital’s ability to provide emergency food and housing.