Utah governor’s office pushing back against Denver for bussing immigrants to Utah

Jun 14, 2024, 8:21 PM

View of Salt Lake City pictured, governor is cracking down on denver sending immigrants to utah...

Aerial view of Salt Lake City, Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (Ravell Call/Deseret News)

(Ravell Call/Deseret News)

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

Senior Advisor and Director of Communications for the governor’s office, Jennifer Napier-Pearce, said in a statement sent to KSL NewsRadio that the City of Denver did not consult 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 learning of Denver’s policy, “We’ve worked 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 Biden administration demanding they immediately stop this practice.”

Has Denver been bussing immigrants to Utah?

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

Ewing said in a statement that Denver has been incredibly transparent with all their newcomer operations, including onward 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 operations include purchasing tickets for newcomers to get to their desired location, where they may have support networks or job opportunities. In all cases, the destination is solely chosen by the newcomer.”

Ewing went on to say that they “Remain in close communication with officials to provide notification if larger groups are traveling or in the exceedingly rare occasion that a flight is booked.”

Cox speaks out

But that differs from what Cox said earlier today on X.

“Recently learned that the Democrat mayor of Denver has been sending illegal immigrants to Utah without proper notification or approval,” Cox’s post read.

Cox went on to say that “all 50 states, including Utah, are now border states due to the failed immigration policies of President Biden and Congress. Once again we call on the Biden administration and Congress to solve this crisis.”

Cox said the state’s resources are completely depleted.

A lack of immigration resources

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

“I have been in a couple of the shelters. I have worked with the governor’s office for new immigrants, new Americans, and you can see how these people are sadly here in this country with nothing,” Trujillo said.

Trujillo agrees that the resources have been used up.

“The situation really is dire. And a lot these people also have children,” Trujillo said. “And that has been the concern of the many organizations that have been trying to help, is that we don’t want to see children on the street.”

Trujillo was hopeful that there were solutions to this problem. One thing he said needs 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, they are turning themselves in. They’re not coming in the shadows or anything like that.”

Another local response

The President 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 that when asylum seekers come into the country, they are asked where they want to go. 

Romero asked that people not place blame on Colorado leadership and avoid dehumanizing families that have come into our communities. 


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Utah governor’s office pushing back against Denver for bussing immigrants to Utah