This Is a “Solvable” Crisis: Denver’s Mayor on How the City Is Handling Migrant Arrivals (Isabela Dias, 3/18/24, MoJo)

Johnston spoke with Mother Jones about Denver’s approach to migrant arrivals, the bipartisan border deal blocked by Republicans, and why this is a “solvable” crisis:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s political stunt of sending migrants to blue cities across the country had the effect of “interiorizing” the border, leading to responses like New York Gov. Eric Adams’ statement that the “migrant crisis” was going to destroy the city. What do you make of that?

That’s not our belief. We think this is a deeply solvable problem and we think the problem is not attributable to the people who are walking 3,000 miles to try to seek asylum from a country that’s persecuting them and making it impossible to survive.

We think Denver can not just survive but thrive with these newcomers arriving.

We just need a couple of key components. That’s what we pushed the federal government for. We need more work authorization. The biggest problem we have is folks who arrive in the city and tell me, “Mr. Mayor, I don’t want any help, I just want to work.” At the same time, CEOs will call me and say that they have open jobs every day that they can’t fill, and they want to be able to hire the migrants that are here. The only problem is we have the federal government standing in the way of hard-working employees who want to work and employers who want to hire them, and the government’s refusing to let them do that. We need federal resources to help us support people.

And we think there should be a coordinated plan for entry. We don’t think that the governor of Texas gets to decide where every person in America ends up. Whenever we’ve had other waves of asylum seekers, we’ve created a distribution plan that allows them to find cities that have resources. We looked at the examples from Ukrainian refugees or Afghanistan refugees and a coordinated federal response that provided work authorization and resources and connected to cities based on their capacity. We were trying to get at least one of those three things in place. Unfortunately, the bipartisan Senate bill that would have helped do that, President [Donald] Trump and the House Speaker came in to kill, which was an injustice for both our newcomers and for our cities. But we’ve found a path forward despite that and we think there’s still a way to help serve newcomers well and prevent the financial crisis in our city. We’re well on our way to resolving that now.