The mayors of several major U.S. cities, including Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York, are urging a meeting with President Joe Biden to address the influx of migrants arriving in their cities. These Democratic leaders contend that while they appreciate the initial efforts, they require more support and coordination from the federal government.
In response to the growing number of migrants, cities like Chicago are seeing migrants resorting to sleeping in police station foyers, while New York has converted a cruise ship terminal into a makeshift shelter. Denver, in particular, has experienced a tenfold increase in the number of arriving migrants, leading to a shortage of shelter space. These individuals, facing reduced work authorizations, are struggling to secure employment and adequate housing.
Denver Mayor Mike Johnston, who is spearheading this coalition, has empasized that most migrants he encounters share a common plea for assistance in finding employment.
Joining Mayor Johnston in this effort are the mayors of the four largest cities in the U.S., including Eric Adams of New York, Karen Bass of Los Angeles, Brandon Johnson of Chicago, and Sylvester Turner of Houston.
The surge of migrants has become a challenging issue at the U.S.-Mexico border, putting pressure on the Democratic president as he seeks re-election. Biden is facing criticism from members of his own party who are grappling with the increasing number of migrants in their respective cities. Meanwhile, Republicans accuse him of lax border security.
In response to these challenges, the administration has implemented stricter rules at the border to discourage illegal crossings. Additionally, they have offered work authorizations and incentives to migrants arriving legally by plane and following proper procedures
To address the situation, the White House has collaborated with New York City to establish a work authorization clinic, where up to 300 migrants daily can submit work permit applications.
The influx of migrants can be attributed to complex factors, including economic and climate-related hardships in their home countries. The changing nationalities and the lack of available places for these migrants contribute to the situation. Winning asylum is a lengthy and challenging process with backlogged immigration courts, where some may wait up to a decade for a court date. This leaves many in limbo, unable to work and reliant on shelters or government facilities.
Biden has sought $1.4 billion from Congress to support state and local governments in providing shelter and services for migrants. However, the mayors are requesting $5 billion, stating that municipal budgets are strained and essential city services are being cut due to the ongoing federal crisis.
They are also advocating for an expedited work authorization process for migrants and are pushing for expanded authorizations to allow individuals released into the U.S. to seek employment while awaiting immigration case resolutions.
Lastly, the mayors are requesting the creation of a regional migration coordinator to enhance coordination among federal agencies, nonprofits, and state and local officials in placing migrants in areas with available capacity.
The fate of this funding request remains uncertain, given the divided composition of Congress, with Republicans holding the majority in the House. Mayor Johnston stresses the importance of a common sense solution to address this complex issue.