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Denver mayor points finger at Trump, GOP as locals criticize ‘crazy’ handling of migrant crisis

denver-mayor-points-finger-at-trump,-gop-as-locals-criticize-‘crazy’-handling-of-migrant-crisis
Denver mayor points finger at Trump, GOP as locals criticize ‘crazy’ handling of migrant crisis

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Political and economic experts living in and around the Denver area have painted a dire picture of what the migrant crisis and the city government’s response to it, is doing to their progressive city. However, Denver’s mayor is placing blame on Trump Republicans in Congress. 

Fox News Digital spoke to The Independence Institute’s Jon Caldara, the Common Sense Institute’s DJ Summers, and the Centennial Institute’s Dr. Tom Copeland about the strain that migrants have put on the local community and why they think Denver’s response is not cutting it.

Summers noted how much of a financial burden the influx has brought to the city already facing a major homelessness crisis, and Caldara spoke more forcefully, noting the situation is “sad and unsustainable,” especially with how Denver’s government is handling it.

800 MIGRANT FAMILIES BEING BOOTED FROM DENVER SHELTERS AS CITY NEARS BREAKING POINT

Migrants sleeping

The Denver city government’s handling of the illegal immigrant crisis has caused much consternation for local residents.  (Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

Dr. Copeland went so far as to call the Denver city government’s handling of the crisis “crazy.” However, the city’s mayor, Mike Johnston, dismissed these criticisms, blaming former President Trump and GOP lawmakers for creating the mess that the migrant crisis has led to in Denver. He’s also pointed to his own faith as a guide to dealing with immigration in a humane way, he says, while acknowledging to Fox News Digital its current path is “not sustainable.”

The experts’ statements to Fox News Digital were a reaction to the city government recently announcing that it would be slashing its budget, including the hours of city employees to reallocate funds to dealing with a surge of migrants. 

Earlier this week, it was reported that the city would be cutting $4.3 million from its Parks and Recreations department, as well as cutting funds from its DMV, leading to some on-call employees losing all of their hours so that illegal immigrants who have arrived in the city will be provided for. 

Among these employees are lifeguards, coaches, and front desk workers. Mayor Johnston announced that these cuts would be coming during a press conference on February 9, but insisted they aren’t “layoffs.”

“These direct impacts on DMV do not involve layoffs, nor do Parks and Rec involve layoffs of our current employees,” he said.

The mayor also projected that the migrant crisis would cost the city around $180 million this year alone, and praised his government’s response to the situation while slamming the federal government’s lack of support. 

“I’m incredibly proud of how city team members have stepped up over the past year, but it is clear that the federal government is not going to support our city,” Johnston said. 

The city has supported 38,861 migrants from the southern border at a cost of nearly $58 million so far, Fox 31 reported.

Caldara told Fox News Digital he thinks the mayor is shifting blame for a problem that he described is “overrunning the city.”

“What I find really funny is that the response from the mayor ­– and the governor [Jared Polis] too – but mostly the mayor, is not to demand that the president shut down the border or enforce the laws,” he said, adding, “The push is always to get more money from the feds.”

Caldara talked about the proposed budget cuts, noting that the city’s “vulnerable residents,” including members of his own family, suffer because of them. 

“What ends up getting slashed is, I think, some core functions, or at least what we think about. Give you a case in point. My son has Down Syndrome. And during a cold snap, they took the senior center at the rec center and used it for housing, for people who – so they wouldn’t freeze. That’s a good thing. But the problem is, my son couldn’t go to his activities, and the seniors couldn’t go to their activities.”

He added, “This is important stuff. And those have been cut. And so now they can’t get those services, right? I keep hearing that a society is – you judge a society on how it treats the most vulnerable. And so, with the influx of homeless and migrants, our most vulnerable seem to be the ones taking it on the chin in order to help this.”

MAYORS WANT WORK PERMITS EXTENDED TO KEEP MIGRANTS EMPLOYED, RECEIVE NEW ASYLUM SEEKERS

Caldara, who last year made headlines for moving human waste left on his property by homeless people to Denver City Hall, added that the migrant situation has been “just overrunning the city.”

He lamented, “You’ve got to wonder how much more we can absorb. And at some point, critical functions are going to get cut. I’ve heard, you know, this is going to cost 10% over the budget. That’s pretty serious stuff. At some point, this breaks.” 

DJ Summers, an analyst at the Common Sense Institute – a non-partisan research group focused on Colorado’s economy – provided sobering economic information on the migrant crisis’ effect on the city. 

Summers admitted that the situation “is such a drain on resources that it eventually kind of just moved to the top tier of our research because it’s such, it has such broad fiscal and economic impact.”

Commenting on the city government’s cutting of public resources, he noted, “The migrant situation was putting a strain on an already strained segment of city resources,” adding that “it’s no longer simply a drain on city resources that they have to try to patch up by taking a dollar here, dollars from the program there, this is actually starting to affect people’s livelihoods at some point.”

To put Johnston’s estimated $180 million for dealing with the migrant crisis in 2024 into context, Summers noted that by October this year, the money spent on migrants would be equivalent to how much the city would have spent on its entire police force by that time.

And by December, the full $180 million spent on migrants would equal the amount of money spent on the city’s Parks and Recreation department, its Cultural Facilities department, and its Office of Human Services spent in that year combined.

It’s worth noting that last week, Johnston amended his initial $180 million projection, promoting a new strategy to consolidate resources provided to migrants ­­­– like reducing the number of shelters – with an aim to save the city around $60 million. 

Johnston noted that proposal is subject to change depending on how many migrant arrivals fluctuate.

DENVER MAYOR WARNS CITY IS ‘VERY CLOSE’ TO A ‘BREAKING POINT’ WITH MIGRANT SURGE

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston

Mayor Mike Johnston recently announced major Denver city government budget cuts so that it may better deal with its migrant crisis.  ((Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images))

The analyst remarked that this situation does seem to be causing “resentment” among local residents, especially since life in Denver is already so expensive. 

“And since the cost of living is so outrageous in Denver, I think there’s probably a little bit of ­­­­– there seems to be in some public comments – a little bit of understated resentment.”

Dr. Copeland, the research director at Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute told Fox, “Denver’s status as a sanctuary city has come back to bite it.” He also claimed the government’s decision to cut public resources “paid for by citizens” is “crazy.”

About Johnston, he asked, “Who does he serve? Certainly not taxpaying residents.”

Copeland continued, “The Mayor has also complained that illegal immigrants just need work permits so they can start earning money – but that will simply increase the number coming to Denver precisely because they can get permits.” 

The research director also criticized the mayor’s recent promise to cut back on migrant spending, stating, “He announced recently that he is ‘saving’ the city $60M by only increasing spending on migrants by $120M instead of $180M. That’s pretty inventive math.”

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A spokesperson for Johnston responded to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on these criticisms.

“The responsibility for Denver’s budget shortfall rests solely on the shoulders of Donald Trump and House Republicans who killed historic, bipartisan legislation that would’ve brought security to the border and funding for cities to manage this crisis,” the spokesperson said. 

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