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Utah governor calls out Denver Mayor Mike Johnston for sending immigrants to Salt Lake City

Governor Spencer Cox and Denver Mayor Mike Johnston
Posted at 9:41 PM, Jun 14, 2024

DENVER — No space in Utah: That's the message from the state's Governor Spencer Cox after he said Denver's Mayor Mike Johnston sent immigrants to his state without proper notification or approval. But Denver said newcomers are sent to all 50 states, not just Utah.

Cox called out Johnston on X, formerly Twitter, saying, "This is completely unacceptable and follows on the failed catch-and-release policy of the Biden administration."

The City of Denver confirmed it's purchased 59 tickets, mostly bus tickets, to Salt Lake City in the past 30 days for immigrants. A spokesperson for the mayor's office insisted that no one is being forced to go anywhere.

Social justice advocate Amy Beck, who works with immigrant families, said after serving more than 42,000 immigrants, there's an overwhelming message that Denver is no longer here to serve you.

"They don't know what it's going to be like there. They just know they can't stay here," explained Beck.

Jennifer Napier-Pearce, senior advisor of communications to Gov. Cox said in a statement, "Denver must end this practice and Congress and the president must do their job and fix this untenable situation."

Governor Cox is getting pushback in his own state, as well. Utah's House Democratic Leader Angela Romero said, "We want to emphasize that Denver is not proactively choosing to send migrants to Utah... Instead of placing blame on one state, we need to come together."

A spokesperson for Mayor Johnston said Denver has always been transparent with its newcomer operations adding, "The vast majority of newcomers arriving in Denver do so on buses chartered from Texas and had no intention of ever coming to Denver. That's why part of our operations include purchasing tickets for newcomers to get to their desired location."

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