DENVER (KDVR) — The Office of Emergency Management does not know where a large group of migrants came from that ended up in the Mile High City, leaving many wondering why this information is such a mystery.
OEM Communications Manager Mikayla Ortega said it is a sensitive group that does not trust the government so their stories aren’t matching up.
“At this point, we can’t say whether or not it was political. We have talked to them overnight and to the morning, and we’re finding some inconsistencies of what they’re telling us,” Ortega told FOX31’s Kim Posey.
Ortega said there has been an increase in the number of migrants coming to Denver in the last few months. Groups have been ending up at the Denver homeless shelter and the two agencies have worked together to handle the uptick in people.
OEM opens emergency shelter for latest group
Approximately 40-50 people landed at the homeless shelter on Friday and into the weekend which is higher than normal, Ortega said. Then Monday, the Denver Rescue Mission called the OEM to alert of a group of 90-100 that were brought by bus and that it couldn’t handle that many people.
An emergency shelter has been opened in order to accommodate the newcomers at a city-owned recreation center. The OEM released video from the shelter, showing dozens of cots and people that have arrived at the location.
What the OEM does know is that the latest group is predominantly Venezuelan but most likely did not come here directly from their South American home. Some speculation suggested that the group came from Texas but nothing has been confirmed, as of yet.
Ortega said staff at the shelters are trying to establish a sense of trust with the migrants to make them feel comfortable and get to the bottom of their origin. But they are afraid to tell the truth for fear of repercussions or getting themselves or someone else in trouble, she said.
How OEM, Denver Rescue Mission are handling group
The group that arrived over the weekend was broken up into smaller groups. The 90-100 that showed up at the Denver Rescue Mission on Tuesday were together on a bus and dropped off at Union Station, the Rescue Mission said.
“The reason that we’re really looking to understand the origins so we can better coordinate. If we’re able to coordinate that need, and there’s an influx at the border and they need some relief then we’ll help coordinate,” Ortega said. “But at this point, this was just very short notice, we were not aware, that this bus was coming until yesterday morning when they were already here.”
Ortega said the groups will stay at the shelters and the OEM will work with nonprofits to provide them with immediate needs and resources.
“As far as a timeframe on how long they’re going to be at our emergency shelter, that’s not known at this time,” Ortega said. “We’ll keep it open as long as we need to until we have more resources set up to move them to a different location, send them along their way if Denver is not their final destination, or get them into a more stable situation.”
Some states in the past have sent out press releases announcing the transport of migrants to other states, Ortega said, but there has not been any found on this group that has shown up in Denver.
Mayor Hancock says Denver is welcoming community
In a tweet Wednesday, Mayor Michael Hancock addressed the latest group of migrants that ended up in the city.
Many of you are aware that roughly 100 asylum-seekers and refugees arrived in our city yesterday. City staff and our network of compassionate service-provider partners worked swiftly to set up an emergency shelter to meet their immediate needs last night.
Denver is and always will be a welcoming community, and we will support these individuals and families with the humanity and dignity they deserve while facing such a difficult situation. Our priority is the health and safety of all our residents, including those who are migrants.
We will do what we can to provide for their needs at this time, including uniting them w/ friends, family, jobs & transportation to other destinations. We lead w/ compassion & we will never turn away from anyone looking to achieve a better life for themselves or their loved ones.Denver Mayor Michael Hancock
Gov. Polis said Colorado welcomes refugees
Ortega said the OEM has reached out to the governor’s office to request assistance.
Governor Jared Polis’ office said while Colorado is a welcoming place for immigrants to come to, the state does not coordinate with other countries to bring them here.
“The Governor continues to call on Congress to pass real, comprehensive immigration that includes better border security and workable pathways for legal immigration and refugees resettlement — it’s the humane thing to do and it will greatly benefit our economy and our communities. The Governor has long supported fixing our broken immigration system that is failing everyone right now,” the governor’s office said.
How to help the newcomers
Donations can be made to the Denver Community Church, American Friends Service Committee, or the Colorado Hosting Asylum Network. Anyone interested in volunteering needs to be registered and credentialed.
Physical donations are not being accepted at this time so the OEM encourages those who would like to help to donate money to one of the nonprofits.