Evan Dreyer, deputy chief of staff to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, speaks as a signer translates during a news briefing about migrants arriving in Denver, on Dec. 8, 2022, at the Denver City and County building. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline)
The sudden influx of migrants arriving in Denver this week was preceded by online communication among those travelers before they made the journey to Colorado, according to Denver officials who spoke to reporters Thursday.
“From what we’ve been able to gather, there was sort of an informal gathering, some on social media among those folks themselves,” Evan Dreyer, deputy chief of staff to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, said during a news briefing. “This does not appear to be anything that was organized by another government entity to direct people specifically to Denver.”
In recent months, the Republican governors in Texas and Florida transported migrants to locations they deemed immigration “sanctuaries” in what critics widely denounced as human rights-abusing political stunts.
“We do not think that that was the case” in Denver, Dreyer said.
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Denver had experienced a steady rise in the number of migrants arriving in the city — 300 in the past two months. But starting Friday, the influx increased dramatically. That’s when a group of up to 50 migrants started to arrive. Then on Monday and Tuesday about 90 more arrived.
Some migrants told municipal staff that they were dropped off by bus at Union Station and headed to the Denver Rescue Mission, roughly 10 blocks away. But others arrived by other means.
“Some have arrived through Denver International Airport, some have arrived through buses, some have arrived through personal vehicles,” Britta Fisher, chief housing officer of the Department of Housing Stability, said.
The migrants reported they came from Central and South America. Several said they came from Venezuela.
The city on Tuesday opened an emergency shelter to accommodate the migrants, some of whom are children, and on Thursday it activated its Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center in response to the arrivals. The shelter is located at an undisclosed recreation center.
City officials expect more migrants to arrive, and they said migrants are appearing in other Colorado locations, including mountain towns.
“We think that this is probably an ongoing situation, and we are working on longer-term solutions. We hope to do that for the community,” Dreyer said. “Our immediate concern is making sure that in the cold weather that we’re taking care of folks, and they have a warm welcome here in Denver.”
Dreyer said he is not sure why the migrants selected Denver as a destination, but he said at least some of them organized online.
“Some of them said that they were communicating on Facebook, and that there was a group of them that then obtained transportation to Denver,” he said.
Officials are asking for community help, and they put out a call to faith-based organizations and other nonprofits for assistance in accommodating migrants. Leaders of such organizations are asked to visit the city’s Office of Emergency Management website.
Individuals who would like to make a monetary donation to support the effort are asked to contribute to Denver Community Church, American Friends Service Committee, and Colorado Hosting Asylum Network.
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