Nov 3, 2023 - News

Mayor Mike Johnston takes migrant plea to the White House

Mayor Mike Johnston speaks during an Axios Denver event on Thursday at DNVR Bar in Denver. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios

Mayor Mike Johnston said Thursday evening there's no firm commitment from President Biden's administration on providing cities like Denver with more resources to pay for services for migrants.

Why it matters: The city is spending $2 million a week to provide resources for people arriving here from the southern border, straining public resources and the city's school district.

Driving the news: Johnston spoke at an Axios Denver event hours after meeting with White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients and senior adviser Tom Perez.

  • Johnston said he led mayors from cities including Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston to urge the federal government to help local officials manage migrants arriving in their cities.
  • The mayors are seeking money along with help speeding up work authorizations and processing cases for people arriving at the border.

What they're saying: "The biggest challenge is a federal government standing in between saying, 'You folks can't work for the people who want to hire you,'" Johnston said Thursday.

Catch up quick: Roughly 2,000 migrants are currently sheltered in the city, a fraction of the more 26,000 people who have received help since they began arriving in large numbers last December.

  • The city has seen a spike in arrivals since the governor of Texas started busing them to Denver.
  • The city allows families to stay up to 37 days at shelters, while Johnston said single men can stay up to 14 days.

Of note: The city is working to find contractors to manage shelters, feed and provide resources for migrants.

What we're watching: Johnston says his administration has not discussed the potential for migrants arriving in Denver fleeing the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.


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