Gov. Polis says migrants will no longer be bused to Chicago or NYC

The Colorado governor said he spoke with the mayors of Chicago and New York City on Saturday about the situation.
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A small busload of people arrive at an emergency shelter for migrants from the southern U.S. border set up at a Denver rec center. Dec. 13, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Updated Jan. 8 at 10:38 a.m.

Colorado will no longer bus migrants from Denver to Chicago or New York City after this weekend, Gov. Jared Polis' office announced Saturday afternoon.

In a release, Polis' office stated that there are no more buses scheduled for migrants from Denver to Chicago at this time and the final chartered transportation to New York City will take place on Sunday.

Polis shared this information during "productive" conversations with NYC Mayor Eric Adams and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the release stated.

Earlier Saturday, Adams and Lightfoot sent a joint letter to Polis urging him to stop busing migrants to their cities, stating that "neither city had any additional room" after receiving thousands of migrants from Texas.

Polis' spokesman, Conor Cahill, told us they are monitoring the evolving situation and "will not prevent anyone who wants to leave from going to their preferred destination."

The transportation process has been scaled back, Polis' office noted, now that nationwide travel is no longer hampered by winter storms, which closed routes and made for crowded situations in Denver's shelters.

Earlier this week, Polis announced state employees would help coordinate bus trips to ease the burden on Denver's overwhelmed emergency shelters for migrants and existing shelters for the city's unhoused. A large number of Central and South American migrants fleeing oppressive situations started to arrive in the city in early December.

Some $5 million has been made available by the state government for costs related to migrant arrivals. Half of that has been allocated to Denver's response, but Polis said any city in the state can apply for the money.

"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," Gov. Polis stated in a press release. "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."

On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced a new immigration plan that would allow up to 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to enter the U.S. legally if they meet certain financial requirements. The move will also allow federal immigration authorities to deny asylum applications for people from those four countries if they cross into the U.S. without authorization.

Obed Manuel contributed to this story.

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