Migrants Send List of 13 Demands to Denver Mayor

If you give migrants free housing, they’ll demand the right to ‘cook their own food with fresh, culturally appropriate ingredients’

By Andrew R. Arthur on May 15, 2024
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Just when you think the border crisis cannot get any more ridiculous, it does. A group of migrants camped under a bridge near Denver (Colo.) International Airport recently sent a list of demands to Mayor Mike Johnson (D) that the city must satisfy before — get this — they will be willing to move to city-funded shelters. It was inevitable but given all the accommodations the city has already made to them, you can hardly blame the migrants.

The Mile High Migrant Crisis. My colleagues Steve Camarota and Karen Ziegler recently released a stunning analysis showing that the foreign-born population in the United States hit new highs — both in raw numbers and in percentage. As of March 2024, 51.6 million foreign-born individuals were living in this country, comprising 15.6 percent of the U.S. population.

By comparison, during the “Great Wave” of migration in the 1890s, 9.2 million foreign-born individuals were living here, and they comprised 14.8 percent of the population. Whether you realize it or not, you are living through a Biden administration experiment that will test the nation’s ability to handle, let alone assimilate, a massive wave of newcomers.

More importantly, as Camarota and Zeigler point out, the foreign-born population has increased by 6.6 million since President Biden took office, 58 percent of whom are here “due to illegal immigration”.

Those aliens have placed significant strains on public services in the cities and states where they have settled, and while New York City and Chicago may get most of the headlines, neither city has felt the impacts quite like Denver has.

The Census Bureau estimates that Denver has a population of fewer than 714,000 residents, and in the last two years, 40,000-plus migrants have arrived there. That would be comparable to just over 467,000 migrants decamping to NYC since the border crisis began — not the roughly 175,000 the Big Apple is dealing with.

Of those 40,000 migrants who have come to the Mile High City, about one-fifth — 8,000 of them — have received housing assistance from the state and local governments. The influx has forced Johnson to reduce other city budget allocations by $45 million.

The Migrants Under the Bridge. Which brings me to the migrants who were camped out on property owned by the Union Pacific railroad under a bridge near the airport.

When the mayor petitioned for them to leave the site and head into city shelters, the migrants responded with the following list of demands:

  1. Migrants will cook their own food with fresh, culturally appropriate ingredients provided by the City instead of premade meals — rice, chicken, flour, oil, butter, tomatoes, onions, etc. ... Also people will not be punished for bringing in & eating outside food.
  2. Shower access will be available without time limits & can be accessed whenever — we are not in the military, we’re civilians.
  3. Medical professional visits will happen regularly & referrals/connections for specialty care will be made as needed.
  4. All will receive the same housing support that has been offered to others. They cannot kick people out in 30 days without something stable established.
  5. There needs to be a clear, just process before exiting someone for any reason — including verbal, written & final warnings.
  6. All shelter residents will receive connection to employment support, including work permit applications for those who qualify.
  7. Consultations for each person/family with a free immigration lawyer must be arranged to discuss/progress their cases, & then the City will provide on-going legal support in the form of immigration document clinics & including transportation to relevant court dates.
  8. The City will provide privacy for families/individuals within the shelter.
  9. No more verbal or physical or mental abuse will be permitted from the staff, including no sheriff sleeping inside & monitoring 24/7 — we are not criminals & won’t be treated as such.
  10. Transportation for all children to & from their schools will be provided until they finish in 3 weeks.
  11. No separating families, regardless of if family members have children or not. The camp will stay together.
  12. The City must schedule a meeting with the Mayor & those directly involved in running the Newcomer program ASAP to discuss further improvements & ways to support migrants.
  13. The City must provide all residents with a document signed by a City official in English & Spanish with all of these demands that includes a number to call to report mistreatment.

Personally, I’m grateful when the local officials in my North Carolina town offer free parking downtown on Sundays and holidays, but perhaps I need to raise my expectations of what my government can do for me — I had no idea free housing, medical care, and “fresh, culturally appropriate ingredients” were even options.

“Asylum Seeker Program”. Johnson may want to look inward for any blame attendant to this list of migrant demands, as he himself has set the bar pretty high for what migrants can expect to receive on Denver’s dime.

As CBS News reported in early April:

The City of Denver looks to take on a different approach to the migrants arriving in the city. Instead, they'll put nearly 1,000 asylum seekers in apartments for six months or provide them with a bus ticket elsewhere.

Denver's newest program looks to better serve migrants, avoid cuts to core public services, and stabilize the city's budget.

In total, the city looks to spend an estimated $90 million this year on migrant services and its' new Asylum Seeker Program.

Currently, there is one congregate shelter open for people arriving in Denver. The city is looking at adding a second congregate site, but it is far less than how many the city was operating at its peak earlier in the year.

Instead of providing shelter, the city is moving towards operating a new model that looks to set migrants up for long-term success.

I’ve only been to Denver a handful of times, but it seems like a nice place and if family or work obligations were to take me there, I wouldn’t mind the change. That said, I wouldn’t be expecting the city to provide me with six months of free housing or to take active steps to place me on the path to “long-term success” — but that would be quite the lagniappe.

As Ronald Reagan once explained, “If you want more of something, subsidize it,” and at the moment, Mayor Johnson and his government — intentionally or not — are subsidizing migrant arrivals. They should not be angry, let alone surprised, if increasing numbers of migrants continue to arrive.

Of course, all these migrant giveaways — in Denver and elsewhere — create yet another magnet that will encourage foreign nationals to pay the cost of hiring smugglers to enter illegally, not just in those cities but in the country as a whole.

You don’t have to take my word for it; in October 2022, President Biden’s own CBP director, Chris Magnus, complained that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s program of busing of migrants released at the border into his state was a “pull factor” that itself exacerbated illegal immigration.

If a free bus ride from El Paso to Denver is such an enticement for would-be migrants, what do you call a municipal program “that looks to set migrants up for long-term success”? As some point, law-abiding residents of towns and cities across the globe look like chumps for not taking Mayor Johnson and his fellow municipal grandees up on their offers.

There’s a fine line between providing emergency humanitarian assistance and busting municipal piggybanks to cater to migrants’ every whim. I have a list of 13 migrant demands that show Denver has well past crossed that line.

A popular children’s book explains that “if you give a mouse a cookie”, then “he'll ask for a glass of milk”. In Denver, if you give migrants free housing, they’ll demand the right to “cook their own food with fresh, culturally appropriate ingredients”.