Denver Mayor Mike Johnston (D) blamed GOP leaders in Washington for the “devastating impact” the collapsed bipartisan border deal will have on the Mile High City.
“I’m here to talk a little bit about the devastating impact of the failure of Republican leadership in Congress this week to pass comprehensive immigration change and the impact that will have both on state budgets and on services that we can provide for newcomers in the city,” Johnston said at a press conference Friday.
He said he has “spent a great deal of time” working with congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, as well as the White House and other federal leaders to push for action as the city experiences an influx of migrants.
He expressed his frustrations with the Senate after it failed to pass a bipartisan border deal Wednesday. The measure, a product of long bipartisan negotiations, saw its support shrink in the upper chamber after Republicans made it clear it was dead on arrival in the House.
Johnston said if the bill had succeeded, Denver would have “accelerated people’s path to work authorization when they arrived” and that the bill would have provided resources to cities such as his that are struggling to house an influx of migrants. He said that path was available, but in one of the “most stunning developments” he has seen, “we ended up with the opposite path.”
“Despite broad bipartisan support, I think [former President] Trump and Republican leaders saw this as a chance that if this bill actually passed, it would have successfully solved the problem facing cities and the border and they would have rather seen it fail so they could exacerbate these problems, extend the suffering of American people and of newcomers for their own electoral changes this November,” he said. “That was far beyond what I expected from even the most cynical of political operators.”
As of Friday, the city of Denver reported it had served more than 38,000 migrants who arrived in the state since it started keeping records and is currently housing more than 3,500.
At the press conference, Johnston announced that the city would be closing its Department of Motor Vehicles offices on a weekly rotating basis, recreation centers will reduce hours and the state parks department will cut its programming by 25 percent as the city tries to offset the costs associated with sheltering migrants without federal aid — and that more cuts may be coming.
Johnston sounded the alarm last week, warning members of Congress that Denver was nearing its “breaking point” as it struggled to keep up with migrants without money from the federal government.