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New York, Chicago mayors urge Colorado Gov. Polis to stop bussing migrants to their cities

Last bus bound for New York City goes out Sunday, Polis said
Posted at 1:59 PM, Jan 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-07 18:42:34-05

DENVER — The mayors of New York City and Chicago are urging Colorado Governor Jared Polis to halt the practice of bussing migrants to their cities.

In a letter to Gov. Polis on Saturday, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and New York City Mayor Eric Adams wrote, “We respectfully demand that you cease and desist sending migrants to New York City and Chicago.”

Lightfoot and Adams, whose cities have already seen an influx of more than 30,000 migrants from the Texas border, wrote, “It is apparent that the influx of asylum seekers has provoked consternation amongst states. Although we share the concerns of accommodating the flood of asylum seekers, overburdening other cities is not the solution.”

More than 3,600 migrants, many from Venezuela, have arrived in Colorado. The city of Denver has been struggling to house the migrants since the first bus arrived at the beginning of December.

"Our understanding is that Colorado purports to be a welcoming state. At least as far as we are concerned, whether a welcoming state or welcoming city, the leaders must make sure that those values are lived in good times and especially in challenging times. That is what we have done and we urge you as governor of Colorado to do the same. We know it is hard because we have been facing these challenges for the last nine months. Colorado must reconsider its decision to send people, who are sheltered and receiving services from Denver-based community organizations, out of state, and particularly to cities like ours," the mayors wrote in the letter.

On Tuesday, Gov. Polis announced the state would begin bussing migrants from Denver to New York City and Chicago, destinations the state said the migrants had chosen. In a statement, Polis says the state is simply helping migrants complete their journeys.

"However, you are sending migrants and families to New York City and Chicago that do not have any ties, family members or community networks to welcome them, and at a time where both cities are at maximum capacity in shelter space and available services," Lightfoot and Adams wrote in the letter.

Before the first several busses took off from Colorado Wednesday morning, the cities told state officials directly that they did not have any room to accommodate the hundreds of migrants who have already arrived in Chicago and New York City from Colorado, according to a news release from the Chicago’s Mayor Press Office.

NYC’s mayor had spoken out against the plan on Tuesday.

"We were notified [Monday] that the governor of Colorado is now stating that they are going to be sending migrants to places like New York and Chicago. This is just unfair for local governments to have to take on this national obligation," Mayor Adams said in a statement Tuesday.

In the letter, the mayors invited Polis to instead of bussing the migrants to their cities, his administration should partner with them to advocate for the federal government to come up with a national solution, which the governor has said needs to be done.

"I think it's important that we have a national coordinated approach to this, and I really hope the Biden administration steps up, shows some leadership in this area," he said at a press conference Tuesday.

In a press release, the governor's office said Polis had a "very productive conversation" with both mayors after he received the letter Saturday. The governor's office said that the state is scaling back the migrant bussing program because "nationwide travel has returned to the status quo."

Polis told Lightfoot and Adams that the last bus from Denver to New York City will be completed Sunday. There are no more busses going to Chicago, according to the release.

Polis again on Saturday called on the federal government to take action on this issue.

“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. We refuse to keep people against their will if they desire to travel elsewhere. While the federal government and Congress, unfortunately, have failed the American people on immigration reform and border security, Colorado continues to assure culturally competent and humane support to help assist migrants escaping oppression,” Polis said in a statement Saturday.

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