Venezuelan asylum seekers speak out about journey from Denver to Fresno

Kassandra Gutierrez Image
Tuesday, February 6, 2024
Venezuelan asylum seekers speak out about journey from Denver to Fresno
New details have emerged about the path that led a group of migrants to Fresno.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- New details have emerged about the path that led a group of migrants to Fresno.

19 Venezuelan migrants are now nearly four thousand miles from their homeland.

"We can't be in Venezuela. There is corruption, there's no work, no employment, or options to study," said one anonymous asylum seeker.

Right now, they're calling Fresno home.

Action News spoke to some of the men on Monday afternoon outside their temporary shelter.

They didn't want to show their faces on camera, but they told us they were looking for work.

"We came this way to have something better and help our family get ahead in life," the asylum seeker continues.

In El Paso, the group had three options: Chicago, Denver, or New York.

They each chose the 10-hour bus ride to Denver, where they stayed in a shelter overnight for several weeks, but the cold winter weather was unbearable.

So, they decided to come to Fresno.

Some of the first migrants arrived three weeks ago.

"We have been living in the streets with hunger. We haven't had clothes," the anonymous asylum seeker mentioned.

The City of Fresno is coordinating with the county and several nonprofits to help out the migrants.

It's a story the City of Denver is all too familiar with.

On Monday, Action News reached out to Denver City Officials, and we asked them if they plan on sending more migrants to Fresno.

"At the end of the day, if they requested the ticket to go to Fresno in Denver. We're gonna buy them the ticket to get there," explained John Ewing with the City of Denver's Public Health.

"I sympathize with the folks in Fresno. I really do. 16 people show up. They're asking for help, clearly needed help. You know they need support. You're caught off guard."

Denver has served over 38,000 asylum seekers since December of 2022. 100 arrived on Sunday alone.

"Now you know what we're doing with now is unsustainable stuff. It's cost us more than $40 million already. We're looking at a 10% to 15% budget cut for this year, $180 billion potentially out of our budget," said John.

Action News reached out to Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer about Denver's policy on sending migrants to other cities.

In a statement to Action News, Mayor Dyer wrote:

"'I find it very troubling that any government entity would transport those entering our country unlawfully to another jurisdiction. Using taxpayer dollars to ship asylum seekers to other parts of the nation is an abuse of power and a misuse of taxpayer dollars. Simply shameful."

Back in Denver, the city says they're currently sheltering 4,000 people, making it hard to even just give a heads-up to cities where migrants are headed.

"There are no resources available to give a heads up. Call every single city that we deal with. Didn't we buy a bus ticket for every single day? That would be an impossible task," explained John.

Denver officials are also asking for support at the Federal level because cities like theirs or Fresno can only do so much.

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