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Migrant Journey: From Venezuela to Texas to Denver to Fresno

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A Denver government official explained how Venezuelan migrants made their U.S. journey from El Paso, Texas, to Denver, Colorado, to Fresno in the past week.

“We didn’t charter a bus and send it to Fresno or anything like that, but if they do ask to go to Fresno, we will buy them a (Greyhound) ticket to Fresno,” said Jon Ewing, spokesperson for Denver Human Services.

Four families from Venezuela began arriving in Fresno by bus Saturday, according to Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer. The 16 people largely came by way of Denver and Texas. They included four children, one of whom has asthma, Dyer said.

Many had gone to the Fresno Mission to seek help.

Thursday night, Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias made arrangements for them to stay at the La Quinta Hotel.

“Once they got to Denver, somehow, someway, they were bused… to California,” Dyer said. “Many of them thought they were going to Indio, but they ended up in Fresno.

Dyer said the city is partnering with the University of California San Francisco Fresno to provide medical care for the migrants. Dyer said the city does not have the legal ability to send people to a destination against those people’s will. But Dyer said with their permission, the city could transport them back to El Paso.

“What we are doing in the city of Fresno is somewhat of a triage and that is to make sure that they have their health needs met, to make sure that they have food, some temporary shelter, and services provided to them so that we can prepare them for their hearing dates in El Paso as established by immigration (law),” Dyer said.

Denver Officials Purchased 29 Bus Tickets in January to Fresno for People

A total of 4,986 tickets in December 2023 and January 2024 were purchased by the city of Denver to provide transportation for people migrating into the U.S. (Denver Human Services)

Multiple officials with the state of Texas and the city of El Paso, Texas, said they had not bused any migrants directly to Fresno. Denver has been a destination for Texas officials, though. And from there, some people have requested Fresno to be their next destination.

Since the beginning of 2024, Denver has only purchased 29 tickets to Fresno, spread throughout January, according to records with the city.

The city purchased 5,030 tickets to various cities in December and January. Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said at the end of last year that his state had shipped 13,800 asylum seekers to Denver since May 18, 2023.

“We don’t pick the city, they pick the city,” Ewing said.

People find out how unaffordable Denver can be and how cold it can get, so they ask to go somewhere else, Ewing said.

About half of the people coming into Denver request to go somewhere else. Ewing said a vast majority of people coming in are coming from Venezuela because of political turmoil there.

“Now, because of all the people here, a lot of people are vying for the same jobs, especially because a lot of them aren’t eligible for work authorization,” Ewing said.

Though many people have requested cities with warmer climates recently, Ewing said, not many people have asked to go to Fresno.

Denver has been receiving buses from El Paso, Texas for over a year and a half now.

The city has received 38,000 people bused in since December 2022, primarily from El Paso. In the beginning, buses had been arriving at all parts of the city, often without notice.

More recently though, El Paso had been giving notice when buses would arrive in Denver. The city is at capacity in terms of providing services, Ewing said.

“We are really, pretty much at capacity right now, we’re extraordinarily limited, we don’t really want to see another city deal with what we’re dealing with,” Ewing said.

Fresno Mission Still Has Capacity to Serve: Dildine

People at the Fresno Mission found shelter for migrants at their overflow warming center, said Matthew Dildine, CEO of the Fresno Mission.

“This is the place that people go to get out of the cold, get out of the rain very low barrier,” Dildine said. “It’s not the best place in the world just because everything else is kind of full, it’s just kind of the last resort.”

Dildine said the organization didn’t know where the people had come from until city officials began asking. Dildine said they still can serve more people.

“It’s not our job to advocate for border policy, my organization’s job is to reflect Jesus. For people that come to our front door, that means helping people who show up and need help,” Dildine said.

Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.