Gov. Jared Polis has announced that Colorado will halt its program to bus migrants to New York City and Chicago after he was criticized by the mayors of the two cities.
“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,” Polis said in a statement Saturday.
“We refuse to keep people against their will if they desire to travel elsewhere.”
Polis, a Democrat, said that he had a “very productive conversation” with New York’s Mayor Eric Adams and Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, who are also both Democrats.
No more buses are currently scheduled for migrants from Denver to Chicago and the last chartered transportation to New York City was scheduled to be completed Sunday, Polis said.
“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.
Polis reiterated his stance that the U.S. Congress and the administration of President Joe Biden “must assist states who are facing these challenges through no fault of their own” and hopes to partner with the federal government to provide work permits for migrants in Colorado.
His apparent backtrack on the program comes after Lightfoot and Adams sent an open letter to Polis describing their concerns with his plan to send migrants north.
“Although we share the concerns of accommodating the flood of asylum seekers, overburdening other cities is not the solution. We respectfully demand that you cease and desist sending migrants to New York City and Chicago,” Lightfoot and Adams wrote in their letter.
The mayors said that their cities have each received hundreds of migrants from Colorado and could not accommodate more “because of the thousands of migrants that had already been inhumanely bused to our respective cities from Texas since spring of 2022.”
“We have seen your statements in the media that you are simply accommodating the wishes of migrants to come to cities like New York City and Chicago,” the mayors wrote.
“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.”
Polis previously said that 70% of migrants arriving in Denver “don’t have Colorado as a final destination.”
Governors in Florida and Texas have sent migrants to other cities by bus and plane.
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