The mayors of five major cities are seeking a conversation with Biden about arriving migrants

FILE - Migrants rest in a makeshift shelter in Denver, Jan. 6, 2023. Five mayors from across the U.S. plan to meet with President Joe Biden to ask for help managing the continued arrival of large groups of migrants to their cities.  The mayors of Denver, Chicago, Houston, New York and Los Angeles say in a letter to Biden that there has been little to no coordination, support or resources and that is leading to a crisis.  (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)

(Thomas Peipert/Associated Press)

The mayors of five major cities are seeking a conversation with Biden about arriving migrants

Immigration and the border

COLLEEN LONG

November 1, 2023

The mayors of Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and New York are pushing to meet with President Biden about getting federal help to manage the surge of migrants they say are arriving in their cities with little to no coordination, support or resources from his government. .

Democratic leaders said Wednesday in a letter obtained by the Associated Press that while they appreciate Biden’s efforts so far, much more needs to be done to ease the burden on their cities.

Migrants sleep in the foyers of Chicago police stations. In New York, a cruise ship terminal was converted into a shelter. In Denver, the number of migrants arriving has increased tenfold and the space available to keep them safe has increased. With fewer work permits available, these migrants cannot find work that would allow them to obtain good housing.

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston, who leads the coalition, said almost every conversation he has had with arriving migrants is the same: Can he help them find a job, they wonder.

The crisis is that we have people here who really want to work. And we have employers here who are desperate to hire them. And we have a federal government that stands in the way of employers who want to hire workers who want to work, Johnston said.

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The mayors of the country’s four largest cities also signed up: Eric Adams of New York, Karen Bass of Los Angeles, Brandon Johnson of Chicago and Sylvester Turner of Houston.

The situation at the U.S.-Mexico border has irritated the Democratic president, who is seeking re-election in 2024. He has come under increasing fire from members of his own party who are managing the growing number of migrants in their cities. Republicans argue that Biden is weak on border security and is allowing too many people to enter the United States.

He has responded by tightening border rules aimed at curbing illegal crossings and offering work permits and other incentives to those who come to the U.S. legally and register legally in advance and arrive by plane.

We are committed to supporting local jurisdictions hosting migrants who have recently arrived in the country. We will continue to provide support in every way we can,” said Emilie Simons, White House deputy press secretary.

Simons said the government is already working to reduce the time it takes to get arriving migrants through the system to 30 days.

The White House said it has partnered with New York City for a work permit clinic that will allow up to 300 migrants per day to complete work permit applications.

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The reason for the rising number of migrants in these cities is complicated, but economic and climate-related hardships in their home countries are key drivers. More and more families are arriving and applying for asylum.

Some conservative-leaning states have sent migrants to so-called sanctuary cities such as New York or Chicago, where laws are more favorable to non-residents. But that alone doesn’t explain why cities are seeing such increases.

In recent years, when migrants arrived, they were released and picked up by nonprofits before usually going to stay with a relative in the US. But the nationalities of the people who arrived have changed and many have nowhere left to go.

Obtaining asylum is a long and difficult process through a heavily congested immigration court system. In some cases, migrants can wait up to ten years for a trial. They are released into the US to wait. Some are eligible to work, but such permits are severely delayed. There are also concerns that allowing too many work permits will encourage more people to make the dangerous journey to the US on foot. So thousands of people are in limbo, unable to work and sleep in shelters or government facilities.

Biden has asked Congress for $1.4 billion to help state and local governments provide shelter and services to migrants, following earlier pleas from Democratic mayors and governors.

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Johnston and the other mayors say in their letter that more is needed and are asking for $5 billion.

“While we greatly appreciate the proposed additional federal funding, our city budgets and local taxpayers continue to bear the brunt of this ongoing federal crisis,” the letter said. Cities have historically successfully absorbed and integrated new migrants.”

Denver spends $2 million a week on sheltering migrants. New York has exceeded a total of $1.7 billion and Chicago has spent $320 million, according to the letter.

Our cities need additional resources far greater than the proposed amount to properly care for the asylum seekers entering our communities,” the mayors’ letter said. “Relying on municipal budgets is not sustainable and has forced us to cut back on essential city services.

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The mayors also want an accelerated approval process for work permits so that migrants can find work.

We are deeply grateful for the work the Biden-Harris administration has done in expanding work authorization and providing funding for this mission, but we must go a step further to ensure we keep up with the moment meet and continue to provide care to newcomers, Johnson’s office says. said in a statement.

The cities are full of people who have signed up, but there are delays of six months or more. The mayors are also pushing to expand the powers so that anyone released into the U.S. would be eligible to find work while they wait for their immigration cases to be finalized.

Finally, they ask the government to appoint a regional migration coordinator who would work with the federal government, nonprofits, and state and local officials. The aim is to better coordinate migrants and place them in areas where there is capacity for them.

It is unclear whether Congress, including the Republican-controlled House, will approve the funding Biden has requested, let alone an increase in local aid.

We think there is a real common sense path here

That

And that’s why we thought it was important, Johnston said.

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