DENVER — A bus of about 50 migrants arrived in Denver from El Paso, Texas, Friday who are temporarily staying at a short-term shelter run by local nonprofit organizations with help from the city.
The migrants arrived Friday morning at the faith-based facility in west Denver. The group of migrants entered the U.S. through the border at El Paso over the past week or two and had been staying at the Annunciation House, a volunteer organization that helps migrants, immigrants and refugees in El Paso, according to Jennifer Piper, the program director with the American Friends Service Committee. Annunciation House contracted the bus, Piper said.
Some of the migrants — from places including Colombia, Ecuador, Cuba and Nicaragua — are asylum seekers fleeing violence and poverty, Piper said.
All of the people aboard the bus Friday were families, and more than half of the people were under the age of 18, Piper said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection had released the group to Annunciation House after they were processed by border patrol, according to Piper. She said that the Title 42 policy, which prevents migrants from entering the U.S. and applying for asylum, led the group to cross the border outside a port of entry and be picked up by border patrol agents.
Friday marks the first time since 2019 that a group of nonprofits that help immigrant communities has taken in a bus full of migrants. The organizations received three that year. The three organizations helping with Friday’s group include Casa De Paz, the Colorado Hosting Asylum Network, and Denver Community Church.
Piper said this group was not a part of the effort by governors from Texas and Florida to “ship the migrants somewhere else.”
“This is a voluntary situation. So, we as nonprofits agreed to host folks from another nonprofit. This has nothing to do with governors or politics, or arguing over what our immigration policy should be,” Piper said in an interview. “This is about sharing in welcoming people who are already let into the United States.”
Some of the migrants who arrived on Friday are only expected to be at the facility for a couple of days, or even less, before uniting with family in other places in the U.S., Piper said. Six families plan to settle in Colorado because they have no other family in the country, Piper said.
The City and County of Denver has been preparing for migrants for weeks, as Denverite previously reported. It has been working with nonprofits and other governments.
The Denver Office of Emergency Management delivered 100 cots, 200 blankets, 200 hygiene kits, two cell phones and six computers to the local nonprofits to set up the 72-hour shelter for the migrants. Today’s group was the first to arrive.
A spokesperson for the Office of Emergency management says it is also providing resources for immigration legal help, housing, and food and medical access.
“We couldn’t say no. We know that we can do it. We’ve done it before in 2019 with really great success and no problems,” Piper said of Friday’s move. “So, it’s important because we’re a transportation hub because we’re close to the border. And because we’re a state that appreciates and values the contributions of immigrants. I would say as a state, providing that welcome — whether it’s Ukrainians, Afghans, or folks from Nicaragua — the welcome should look the same.”