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Letter to Colorado governor highlights growing frustration with migrant crisis

Crisis extends beyond Denver, where 3,800 migrants have arrived in past month
Bus being used to transport migrants
Posted at 5:20 PM, Jan 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-08 19:54:46-05

DENVER – As President Biden prepared to visit the southern border on Sunday, the mayors of two of the largest cities in the country called out Colorado for bussing migrants to their cities, highlighting the growing frustration local and state leaders feel when it comes to dealing with the migrant crisis.

In a joint letter to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, New York Mayor Eric Adams and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot demanded he “cease and desist” sending migrants to their cities.

“Although we share the concerns of accommodating the flood of asylum seekers overburdening other cities is not the solution,” the mayors said. "We respectfully demand that you cease and desist sending migrants to New York City and Chicago. Since December of 2022, Chicago and New York City have received hundreds of individuals from Colorado. Before the first bus arrived in either of our cities, we informed a Colorado official directly that neither city had any additional room to accommodate any more migrants because of the thousands of migrants that had already been inhumanely bused to our respective cities from Texas since spring of 2022.”

Letter to Colorado governor highlights growing frustration with migrant crisis

Both mayors said their cities are overcapacity in shelter space and services.

Adams added that more than 36,000 migrants had arrived in his city.

He estimated it would cost a billion dollars to deal with the migrant crisis in New York.

Polis responded to the mayors, saying Colorado only sent migrants who wished to leave the state.

Polis said there were no plans to send any additional buses to Chicago or New York after Sunday.

“People fleeing violence and oppression in search of a better life for themselves, and their families deserve our respect not political games, and we are grateful we have been able to assist migrants to reach their final destination,” said Polis. “We refuse to keep people against their will if they desire to travel somewhere else.”

Jennifer Piper, the program director for the Colorado office of the American Friends Service Committee, which provides legal services to migrants, said the letter shows Denver is not alone in facing a migrant crisis.

“I think that there's a lot of frustration from local government officials around the country because they've felt alone in trying to meet this moment,” said Piper. “This is a problem that both parties respect, bear responsibility for not addressing.”

It’s been decades since Congress passed a comprehensive immigration law.

President Biden vows to slow migration to the southern border.

"We can’t stop people from making the journey, but we can require them to come here, and they — that they come here in an orderly way under U.S. law," Biden said. "And let me say it again: The actions we’re announcing today will make things better — will make things better but will not fix the border problem completely. There’s more that has to be done, and I laid that out in the first week I was here. That work will not be done unless and until the Congress enacts and funds a more comprehensive immigration plan that I proposed on day one."

Piper said Biden’s plan, which includes an expansion of rapid expulsions under Title 42, could make things worse.

“Presidents of both parties have had this idea if they make it hard enough people will not come,” said Piper. “But we know when people have no other option, but to leave everything they know and flee for their life, there's no policy at the border that's going to prevent them from coming.”

Biden also promises to increase funding to cities receiving migrants.

On Twitter, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock called it a “positive step.”

Since Dec. 9, more than 3,800 migrants have arrived in Denver, according to city officials.

They estimate the migrant crisis will cost Denver up to $3 million over the next few months.

Piper said community organizations have already been stepping up to help with the crisis in a variety of ways and she says it is vital that this continues.

“We've been pretty busy with requests from people who want to help and please continue to reach out to us and be patient,” said Piper. “To meet this moment, local governments and nonprofits and state governments have to work together.”