Early Monday morning, a bus carrying 55 refugees arrived in Denver. The group had traveled several hours from a shelter in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where the number of migrant asylum-seekers has overwhelmed local organizations and immigration authorities.
According to reports from numerous media outlets, including NPR, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have begun releasing large numbers of asylum seekers from detention centers in border cities like El Paso, Texas. The agencies are reportedly inundated by the sheer number of asylees, many of whom are fleeing violence in Central America.
Once released, these individuals are allowed to await their immigration hearing in the U.S., but many have nowhere to stay in the interim, or need help connecting with relatives and friends in the country.
Megan Hope is a board member with Annunciation House, an organization that works with migrants in El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico. They also run the shelter in Las Cruces. Hope said it was the first time the organization has had to seek support out of state and they likely turned to Denver for its reputation as being friendly toward immigrants.
“Communities in Denver have provided sanctuary to other immigrants and there’s a fairly active network here of people willing to provide that hospitality,” she said.
In October 2017, a total of five immigrants took sanctuary at churches in Colorado, more than in any other state in the country.
On Monday afternoon, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock released a statement expressing his support of the group’s arrival.
“Denver will always be a welcoming place for people seeking refuge,” Hancock said. “I am proud of our community for proactively stepping in to provide support in uniting these individuals with their family and friends. They deserve our compassion, not condemnation.”
The 55 refugees include many parents with children and they will remain in one of three Denver churches until they are transported to permanent housing elsewhere in the country.