Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has planned to send migrants to major cities including New York, Mayor Eric Adams said Tuesday, warning that the nation’s largest city is already struggling to deal an influx of people sent from Texas and other Republican-led states.
The impending move by Polis is unusual because Colorado is not a border state and both leaders are Democrats facing severe challenges over what they say is a national crisis around immigration.
“We were notified yesterday that the governor of Colorado is now stating that they are going to be sending migrants to places like New York and Chicago,” Adams said during a radio appearance. “This is just unfair for local governments to have to take on this national obligation.”
An aide to Adams said the mayor’s administration was told of the governor’s intentions on Monday evening. And while it appeared that Polis’ plan entailed redirecting migrants who had arrived in Colorado to New York City and other metropolitan areas, the details on timing and the number of people who would be traveling east was unclear.
Polis’ office did not immediately respond.
Like many major cities around the country, Denver has been struggling to provide services for a surge of people who have fled their home countries in Central and South America, crossed the southern border and sought asylum in the United States. Last month, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock declared a state of emergency and later appealed to the local Catholic archdiocese for assistance. He and Polis — both Democrats — also launched a fund to raise money to support services for migrants.
Thousands of migrants have attempted to cross into the U.S. from the southern border in recent weeks, in part because a Trump administration border policy, known as Title 42, was set to expire in December. The Supreme Court last week blocked the lifting of the policy, which allows the U.S. to expel migrants to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott over the spring and summer bused thousands of migrants from the border to blue strongholds like New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, while Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis flew nearly 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. He claimed it was to bring attention to the border situation.
But in recent weeks, the dilemma at the border has become worse. El Paso’s Democratic mayor, Oscar Leeser, declared a state of emergency in December after migrants began pouring into the city. Abbott also deployed hundreds of Texas national guard and state troopers to the border to stop people from entering the U.S.
A spokesperson for Abbott said in an email, “We are still only busing to DC, NYC, Chicago, and Philadelphia.”
Adams said Tuesday around 30,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York City since the spring in need of food, shelter and education — a surge that has has stretched the city’s social service infrastructure to the breaking point and opened up huge risks for the municipal budget. Adams, along with the two Colorado leaders, have called on the federal government to provide assistance to localities dealing with the influx.
“No city should have to make a decisions if they’re going to provide for their citizens — particularly coming out of Covid — or if they’re going to deal with an onslaught of migrants and asylum seekers,” he said.