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Eric Adams is Conflating Two Different Immigration Busing Issues. What’s Really Happening?

This piece was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

Over the course of this week, New York City Mayor Eric Adams has conflated two immigration issues while complaining about the busing of migrants to New York. 

After Colorado started busing migrants to New York, Adams said it was “unfair” that the city had to deal with both Democratic and Republican governors sending migrants to the City. But Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) has pushed back on Adams’ characterization of his actions, and separated himself from the policies and political stunts of Republican governors like Texas’ Greg Abbott and Florida’s Ron DeSantis. 

What’s really happening? Colorado is doing something similar to what New York City has been doing since last year — helping migrants get where they want to be. Polis said the state welcomed migrants to stay, but about 70% of the migrants in Colorado do not want to remain there. Meanwhile the Republican governors of Texas, Arizona, and Florida bused migrants to Democratic-leaning cities without coordinating with local governments and without regard for where the migrants wanted to be. 

“It’s obviously entirely different,” Polis said in an interview on Wednesday with the Colorado Sun. “We are respecting the agency and the desires of migrants who are passing through Colorado. We want to help them reach their final destination, wherever that is.”

In recent weeks, more than 3,600 migrants have passed through Denver, which has been utilizing recreation centers as emergency shelters

The driving force behind migrants’ desire to come to New York or other states appear to be rumors and information passed through word of mouth. 

Documented’s Community Correspondent, Rommel Ojeda, spoke with two people who traveled to New York from Colorado. 

One 58-year-old man from Venezuela said that on Christmas Eve, he took a bus to Denver from El Paso because his family members in Florida and Las Vegas did not want to take him in. He told Rommel he heard New York was offering shelter to Venezuelans — which is the case for those arriving in the state without any local contacts, in accordance with NYC’s right-to-shelter law.

A second migrant Rommel spoke with yesterday said he was given a ticket from Denver to Cleveland, Ohio, where he would transfer to another bus heading to New York before going to his final destination: Paterson, New Jersey.

Many migrants interviewed by Documented in the last few months have said they came to New York City because they have heard the City offered shelter to all who needed it, and that there was work available. Others said they were hoping to reach other final destinations across the country, but were offered in Texas to board free buses to New York.

Most U.S. jurisdictions do not have a right-to-shelter law:

“I think the problem is that people use that term [right-to-shelter law] to mean different things,” explains Joshua Goldfein, staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society. “New York has the broadest range [of provisions under the right-to-shelter policy] or the fewest restrictions. California has debated creating something but so far that has not happened.”

Other cities like Denver have been offering makeshift services to migrants in need of help.

“But there may be limitations on the amount of time that anyone can stay there,” Goldfein explained. “There may not be enough beds for everybody who shows up. So there are shelters. Some are government-sponsored, some are not-for-profits. But there is not any kind of system that anticipates that people are going to be able to stay for any period of time.”

Denise Chang, executive director of Colorado Hosting Asylum Network, told Documented’s Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio that they have been working with the Cities of Denver and Aurora, the state of Colorado, and nonprofits. 

Together, they have set up and staffed shelters or hotels with volunteers, and provided legal advice, medical care, clothing, meals, and other assistance. CHAN meanwhile finds stable housing for those who are choosing to settle in Colorado.

New York City wasn’t prepared to be overwhelmed by new migrants arriving in the City, and this appears to be the reason for Adams’ reaction to new arrivals from Colorado. Adams has said the city’s “shelter system is full, and we are nearly out of money, staff and space.”

President Biden’s speech yesterday: Biden announced Thursday that his administration was establishing parole programs for Cubans, Nicaraguans, Haitians, and Venezuelans. The parole programs are basically the same as the Venezuelan parole program announced in October 2022. The new parole programs will open applications today.

Biden also said that immigration is “a political issue that extreme Republicans are always going to run on,” and that Republican leadership has rejected comprehensive plans on immigration reform.

“Now, they have a choice,” Biden said. “They can keep using immigration to try to score political points, or they can help solve the problem.”

The next bus from Colorado is expected to leave this morning to New York.

STORIES WE ARE FOLLOWING

New York

Free immigration, legal services available today in Flushing library:

The New York Legal Assistance Group’s mobile legal help center will be offering free legal services today, Jan 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 31-21 Union Turnpike. — Patch

Around the U.S. 

Piece of border wall at risk of floating away in flood:

Federal officials worry that the fence could end up redirecting the Rio Grande in such a way that the land it sits on would end up as part of Mexico. — The New York Times

Police detain man for allegedly harassing migrants in El Paso with gun:

The 27-year-old male was allegedly harassing migrants near a church. — KTSM 9 News

More Border Patrol agents patrolling El Paso area:

“They arrived and asked people for their papers. They approached people and then escorted them into the vans. They took men, women, children — complete families.”— El Paso Matters 

Arizona to pay $76M to take down border shipping container wall:

Construction of the container wall began in Yuma this past August despite objections from conservation groups, the federal government and activists. — News Nation

Washington D.C

DHS addresses Biden’s new expulsion plans: 

Mexico will now permit the U.S. to expel 30,000 Venezuelans, Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians per month to Mexico, though the Biden administration still says it aims to end Title 42. Read more

USCIS publishes FAQs for new fee rule: 

The FAQ page includes answers to questions like “Why does USCIS need a new fee schedule?” “What about funding from Congress?” and “How did current backlogs accumulate in the first place?” — Read more

ICE releases annual report for fiscal year 2022:

ICE conducted over 142,000 administrative arrests, 96,000 of which were categorized as “Other Immigration Violators”; i.e. people without criminal convictions, or charges entered into the ICE system. — Get the full report here

Deportation cases increase as border numbers rise:

The new ICE report shows that more than 4.7 million immigrants in the U.S. were facing deportation proceedings in fiscal year 2022, a 29% jump from previous year. — Read some highlights in the Washington Post

Biden plans to visit border before Mexico trip: 

President Biden said Wednesday he intends to visit the U.S.-Mexico border ahead of his meeting next week in Mexico City with the leaders of Canada and Mexico. — Border Report

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