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As Denver sends immigrants to Utah, Cox pushes back

SALT LAKE CITY — The city of Denver is busing immigrants into Utah and now Gov. Spencer Cox’s office says it is doing everything it can to stop the practice.

Senior advisor and communications director for the governor’s office, Jennifer Napier-Pearce, said in a statement to KSL NewsRadio that the city of Denver has not consulted with them about sending immigrants to Utah.

“Just over two weeks ago, we learned of an immigrant family at the Salt Lake City airport who had been sent by Denver officials with no resources and no place to go,” Napier-Pearce said in the statement.

It goes on to say that since we learned of Denver’s policy, “We have been working with Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City to push back on the Department of Homeland Security, the City of Denver, the State of Colorado and the Gov. -Biden demanding that she immediately stop this practice.”

Did Denver transport immigrants to Utah?

Jon Ewing with the Denver Department of Human Services confirmed to KSL NewsRadio that they paid for tickets to send 59 people to Salt Lake City in the last month and have paid for 2,000 tickets for people in the last year and a half.

Ewing said in a statement that Denver has been incredibly transparent with all of their newcomer activities, including further travel efforts.

“The vast majority of newcomers arriving in Denver do so on buses chartered from Texas and had no intention of ever coming to Denver,” Ewing said. “That’s why part of our activities includes buying tickets for newcomers to go to their desired location, where they may have support networks or job opportunities. In all cases, the destination is chosen solely by the newcomer.”

Ewing went on to say that they “remain in close communication with officials to stay informed if larger groups travel or in the extremely rare event that a flight is booked.”

Cox speaks out

But that’s different from what Cox said on X earlier today.

“Recently learned that the Democratic Mayor of Denver has been sending illegal immigrants to Utah without proper notice or approval,” Cox’s post said.

Cox went on to say that “all fifty states, including Utah, are now border states because of the failed immigration policies of President Biden and Congress. We once again call on the Biden administration and Congress to resolve this crisis.”

Cox said state resources have been completely exhausted.

A lack of immigration resources

Depleted resources are something immigration attorney Carlos Trujillo said he has seen firsthand.

“I’ve been to a few shelters. I’ve been working with the governor’s office on new immigrants, new Americans, and you can see how these people are unfortunately sitting here in this country with nothing,” Trujillo said.

Trujillo agrees that the resources have been used up.

“The situation is really dire. And a lot of these people have children too,” Trujillo said. “And that is the concern of the many organizations that have tried to help: we don’t want to see children on the streets.”

Trujillo hoped there were solutions to this problem. One thing he believes deserves specific attention is the current process for asylum seekers.

“It’s a very different wave of immigrants than before,” Trujillo said. “A very high percentage, I would say about 70% if not higher, of these people arriving at the border are turning themselves in. They don’t come into the shade or anything like that.”

Another local reaction

The chair of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, State Rep. Angela Romero, also weighed in today.

She said her office has been in close communication with the Denver mayor’s office. She said when asylum seekers enter the country, they are asked where they want to go.

Romero asked people not to place the blame on Colorado’s leadership and to avoid dehumanizing families who have come into our communities.

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