Posted on May 15, 2019

New Mexico Governor’s Office Paid $4,000 to Bus Asylum Seekers to Denver-Area Churches

Saja Hindi, Denver Post, May 14, 2019

The New Mexico governor’s office paid about $4,000 for a bus to transport 55 Central American asylum seekers to Denver early Sunday morning in an arrangement negotiated between nonprofits in both communities, a spokeswoman confirmed on Tuesday.

The office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham coordinated with Annunciation House, a nonprofit that works with migrants along the El Paso, Texas/Juarez, Mexico border, to send the asylum seekers to Denver because their shelters were over capacity. It was the first time Annunciation House had sent migrants to another state.

The shelters in Las Cruces, N.M., have been inundated with migrants and asylum seekers since April 12, New Mexico governor’s spokeswoman Claudia Tristán said.

Because the shelters had reached capacity, border patrol agents were releasing asylum seekers to bus stations, giving them no way to contact their sponsors. {snip}


The New Mexico governor did not provide advance notice to Colorado’s governor about the arrangements, but Gov. Jared Polis’ office said Monday he supports providing humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers.


The Department of Homeland Security said border patrol agents and ICE agents began releasing “non-criminal, processed family units” on March 19 and since then had released more than 40,000 people with notices to appear in court.


The agency said its agents have exceeded their capacity to apprehend people and to “expeditiously process, transfer to ICE or direct release.”


When three Denver-area churches offered up their spaces for shelter, Lujan Grisham’s office agreed to pay for transportation in one-time deal. The asylum seekers, most of whom are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, arrived at about 2 a.m. Monday after a nine-hour drive. The last two people are scheduled to leave to their sponsor’s destinations by Wednesday morning, said Jennifer Piper,  interfaith organizing director for American Friends Service Committee in Denver, said in a Tuesday news release.