EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — El Paso County Commissioners held a last-minute press conference Wednesday afternoon to reaffirm their stance on the ongoing migrant crisis amid reports of migrants arriving in the area.
During the conference, the commissioners said they were alerted that a bus of migrant families had arrived on Sunday, but said they did not know details about where.
County Commissioner Cami Bremer said El Paso County will not be designated as a sanctuary county for migrants. She said sanctuary cities, like Denver, are seeing a strain on local resources, like homeless shelters and law enforcement. Bremer said there is simply not enough money in the county to support incoming migrants and does not want to spread a message that “our laws don’t matter.”
“We’re saying we don’t want that here in El Paso County and we have the ability to say no. That we’re going to handle it differently," she said.
Commissioners also called on the federal government to take action to secure the border. They said part of the issue is that the county has no authority to deport anyone. County Commissioner Carrie Geitner called on local nonprofits to not extend resources to migrants if they come to them for help.
“We in El Paso County must draw a line in the sand. We’re not in the business of selling dreams that can’t be fulfilled," she said.
However, The Salvation Army El Paso County said they have already been helping families who arrived in the area. Jeane Turner, a spokesperson for the organization, said they have seen 23 families come through and some are still in the area.
“Salvation Army has had our mission for 150 years to meet the needs of suffering humanity without discrimination. So, we will continue to probably do that for the next 150 years.”
Turner said the nonprofit notified the city on Monday about the migrants that had come to them for help. She said The Salvation Army is still working with the City of Colorado Springs to make a plan for the families moving forward.
Colorado Springs Mayor Yemi Mobolade said his office has been monitoring the situation at the southern border and the influx of migrants in Denver since he took office in June.
I want to be clear that Colorado Springs is not currently in an emergency situation regarding the arrival of migrants. However, we are aware that some migrant families have organically made their way to our city and have sought service at local nonprofit shelters. (3/8)— Mayor Yemi (@MayorofCOS) February 1, 2024
The mayor's office acknowledged it is aware that migrant families have traveled to Colorado Springs "organically" and it was not done with any coordination from the City of Colorado Springs, El Paso County, or associated nonprofits.
Mayor Mobolade stood with county leaders and said the city would not become a sanctuary for migrants. He also said, "it's the city's duty to care for its residents first, and that remains our top priority." However, he said that political grandstanding and simply saying "do not come here" are not efficient response strategies.
Mayor Mobolade said the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management (PPROEM) is looking at different response scenarios should migrants arrive unannounced again. He said PPROEM is talking with local nonprofits to understand their resource capacity.
News5 has contacted several other local nonprofits in our area to ask about their response to incoming migrants. We heard back from Nate Springer, the CEO of Care and Share Food Bank. Springer said it is not Care and Share's business to turn anyone away across Southern Colorado.
His statement went on to say, that "the magic of Care and Share and our network is the low barrier to entry. Name, number of people in the family, and zip code are the only questions we ask."
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