DENVER — Since December, the City and County of Denver has assisted more than 3,800 migrants who arrived to the city, many of them coming from Central and South America. Recreation centers have been converted into emergency shelters, and the city is requesting donations and volunteer support to help the migrants on their journey (about 70% of the did not have Colorado as a final destination, state officials said).
After Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced recently that the state would begin busing migrants to larger cities, such as New York City and Chicago, mayors of those cities sent a letter urging his administration to stop the practice, according to a press release from the governor's office. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and New York City Mayor Eric Adams instead urged Polis to join them in pressuring the federal government to find a long-term solution for asylum seekers.
Denver officials also issued a new release Tuesday morning stating they intend for migrants' stays to last a maximum of two weeks, to "ensure we can maintain sustainable, safe and stable operations while continuing to bring our recreation centers back online for the Denver community," the release states.
As political officials scramble to make sense of the migrants' arrival, immigration activists, nonprofit leaders and attorneys say the issue stems from decade-old policies the United States has enacted through immigration laws.
Jennifer Piper, program director at the American Friends Services Committee — a nationwide organization focused on social justice initiatives — said the uptick in migrants from Venezuela comes as a result of hostile treatment toward the Venezuelan government by the United States government.
United States military intervention in Venezuela has caused lasting economic instability and political unrest among the country’s citizens, Piper said. As a result, many in Venezuela have been forced to leave the country and seek refuge in the United States. The process of even reaching the United States-Mexico borders is grueling, Piper added.
“Most of the people we’re seeing have been walking for months, working their way from Venezuela or Colombia to the U.S.,” Piper said. “For people who’ve made it to us, I think of them as people who are very resilient and strong and creative, and also folks who need support and safety and structure in order to overcome the trauma of that journey.”