Shortly afterward, in an interview with Politico, Colorado’s governor said that about 70 percent of the immigrants arriving in Denver have final destinations elsewhere in the country, including New York, and that his office is working with Denver officials to to help them along the way.
The process has been going on for weeks, he said, but last month’s winter storm has created a backlog of asylum seekers who are stuck in the Mile High City and are only now able to leave.
It is unclear how many people traveled from Denver to the Five Cities. The Colorado governor’s office was not able to provide numbers to POLITICO. And when the mayor spoke with his counterpart in Denver last week, City Hall spokesman Fabian Levy said Adams only learned about the arrival limit during a call with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday.
New York City has a similar program to send asylum seekers to other cities if their final destination is elsewhere. Levy said the Adams administration makes efforts to connect travelers on the other end with organizations, family members or services, but some arrivals from Colorado have ended up in the New York City shelter system.
The influx of asylum seekers crossing the southern border accelerated at the end of the year as a Trump-era policy—known as Title 42—allowed the federal government to deport migrants as a COVID-19 precaution. allowed to do – was expected to end. The Supreme Court, however, blocked that termination in a ruling last week.
Regardless, the strain on the social safety net of cities across the country has begun to drive divisions within the Democratic Party.
On Tuesday, Lightfoot called Colorado’s move “inhumane” — an assessment Adams said he shared.
“You’re right I [agree],” he said during Wednesday’s press conference. “For the governor of Colorado to say I’m going to take the problem to the city—and not even inform us…that’s absolutely unacceptable.”
However, a spokeswoman for Polis said Colorado is respecting the wishes of asylum seekers who are often traveling for months. And while officials in Denver have made it clear that migrants are welcome to say no, many are looking to go elsewhere.
In a statement, Conor Cahill, the governor’s spokesman, said in a statement, “If the mayor is insinuating that people like the Republican governor are being ‘sent away’, that is wrong.” “We respect the agency and right of migrants to make their own decisions about where they are going.”
“That being said,” he said, “we share the mayor’s passion for federal immigration reform and look forward to partnering with him to continue urging Congress and the White House to do something immediately.”
Indeed, despite their disagreements about busing, all three leaders expressed frustration at the lack of federal coordination from lawmakers and the Biden administration.
“Why don’t you ask the federal government to fix this mess they made?” Adams said Wednesday while addressing critics of his administration. “This is unacceptable and I am not going to sit back and allow New Yorkers to bear the burden of a man-made crisis. It must be fixed.
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