Mayors of big cities seek a meeting with Biden on how to better manage the arrival of migrants

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The mayors of Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and New York are pushing to meet with President Joe Biden for federal help to manage the surge of migrants they say are arriving in their cities with little or no coordination. support or resources from your administration.

Democratic leaders they say in a letter obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday that while they appreciate Biden's efforts so far, much more needs to be done to ease the burden on their cities.

Immigrants sleep in the lobbies of Chicago police stations. In New York, a cruise ship terminal became a shelter. In Denver, the number of immigrants arriving has increased tenfold and the space available to house them has shrunk. With fewer work authorizations available, these immigrants cannot find work that would allow them to obtain adequate housing.

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston who heads the coalition, said almost every conversation he has had with arriving immigrants is the same: Can you help them find a job? they ask him.

“The crisis is that we have people here who desperately want to work. And here we have employers who desperately want to hire them. And we have a federal government that stands in the way of employers who want to hire employees who want to work,” Johnston said.

The mayors of the country's four largest cities also signed: Eric Adams of New York, Karen Bass of Los Angeles, Brandon Johnson of Chicago and Sylvester Turner of Houston.

The situation on the border between the United States and Mexico has irritated to the democratic president , who is seeking re-election in 2024. He is increasingly under fire from members of his own party managing the growing number of immigrants in their cities. Republicans say Biden is soft on border security and is allowing too many people into the United States.

I have answered tightening border rules aimed at curbing illegal crossings and offering work authorizations and other incentives to those who arrive in the United States legally, requesting them in advance and arriving by plane.

“We are committed to supporting local jurisdictions that welcome migrants who have recently arrived in the country. “We are going to continue to provide support in every way we can,” said Emilie Simons, deputy White House press secretary.

Simons said the administration is already working to reduce the time it takes to get immigrants through the system to 30 days.

The White House said it has partnered with New York City to create a work authorization clinic where up to 300 immigrants per day can come to submit work permit applications.

The reason of the growing number of migrants In these cities it is complicated, but the economic and climate-related difficulties in their countries of origin are key factors. More and more families are arriving and asking for asylum.

Some conservative-leaning states They have sent immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities, like New York or Chicago, where the laws are more favorable to non-citizens. But that alone doesn't explain why cities face such increases.

In years past, when immigrants arrived, they were released and picked up by nonprofit groups before staying with a family member already in the United States. But the nationalities of the people arriving have changed and many no longer have anywhere to go.

Obtaining asylum is a long and difficult process through a very congested immigration court system. In some cases, immigrants They can wait up to a decade for a court date . They are released into the United States to wait. Some have the right to work, but those authorizations are long overdue. There are also concerns that allowing too many work authorizations will encourage more people to make the dangerous journey to the United States on foot. So thousands of people are in limbo, unable to work, sleeping in shelters or government facilities.

Biden has requested $1.4 billion to Congress to help state and local governments provide shelter and services to migrants, following previous requests from Democratic mayors and governors.

Johnston and the other mayors say in their letter that more is needed and ask for $5 billion.

"While we greatly appreciate the proposed additional federal funding, our city budgets and local taxpayers continue to bear the brunt of this ongoing federal crisis," the letter says. "Historically, cities have successfully absorbed and integrated new immigrants."

Denver is spending $2 million a week housing immigrants. New York has spent a total of $1.7 billion and Chicago has spent $320 million, according to the letter.

"Our cities need additional resources that far exceed the amount proposed to adequately care for asylum seekers entering our communities," the mayors' letter says. "Relying on municipal budgets is not sustainable and has forced us to cut essential urban services."

The mayors also want an expedited work authorization approval process so immigrants can find work.

Mayor Johnson told reporters Wednesday that Chicago and other American cities They have shouldered most of the responsibility towards migrants.

“From day one I have said that the federal government has to do more,” he said.

Cities are full of people who have applied, but there are delays of six months or more. The mayors are also pushing to expand authorizations so that anyone released into the United States is eligible to find work while they wait for their immigration cases to be resolved.

Lastly, they request that the administration create a regional immigration coordinator who would work with the federal government, nonprofit organizations, and state and local officials. The goal is to better coordinate and place migrants in areas where there is capacity for them.

It is unclear whether Congress, including the Republican-controlled House, will approve any of the funding Biden has requested, much less an increase in local support.

"We think there's a real common sense path here and that's why we thought it was important," Johnston said.

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