© 2024 KVPR | Valley Public Radio - White Ash Broadcasting, Inc. :: 89.3 Fresno / 89.1 Bakersfield
89.3 Fresno | 89.1 Bakersfield
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

City of Fresno looking at next steps for asylum seekers who arrived from Texas

(From left) Councilmember Miguel Arias and Mayor Jerry Dyer share details of asylum seekers who landed in Fresno in late January
City of Fresno
(From left) Councilmember Miguel Arias and Mayor Jerry Dyer share details of asylum seekers who landed in Fresno in late January

FRESNO, Calif. – City officials are hoping to help transport a group of 19 asylum seekers who arrived here last week to their next destinations. Local non-profits are also helping to provide them with resources and legal assistance.

The asylum seekers from Venezuela arrived through Texas reportedly seeking refuge from political unrest and economic hardships. After they were processed at the border, they were reportedly told by authorities to head for a new city.

In recent months, many migrants have been dropped off in major cities like New York, Denver and Chicago.

According to city officials, the group was sent aboard a Greyhound bus from El Paso to Denver. From there, they were told to head to Imperial County in Southern California, but somehow ended up in Fresno.

Fresno officials say it isn’t immediately clear why the asylum seekers were routed to the Central Valley.

The group consists of four families with three children under 5 years old. According to the city, they had been staying at the Fresno Rescue Mission center near Chinatown for a week before they were aided by the city, which then provided food, medical care, and hotel rooms.

“What [the city] is doing is somewhat of a triage,” said Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer at a press conference last week. “That is to make sure that they have their health needs met, to make sure they have food, and some temporary shelter.”

Criticism of Texas policy

While this isn’t the first time migrants and asylum seekers have been sent to California, it’s believed to be the first time one of those groups have arrived in Fresno.

Since 2022, the state of Texas has transported thousands of migrants to “sanctuary cities” in blue states. Governor Greg Abbott says it’s meant to cope with the large number of people arriving at the southern border.

Florida Governor Ron Destantis has also taken similar actions. Last June, the Republican governor sent 48 Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard – an affluent island off Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Other migrants were also sent to Sacramento.

Critics of this tactic, including Governor Gavin Newsom, say it’s a political game.

In September, Newsom asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether the flights could be considered kidnapping under California laws.

Dyer, Fresno mayor, says while he doesn’t agree with the actions being taken by Texas officials, the issue is much larger than politics.

“What we're dealing with are the symptoms of a broken immigration system,” Dyer said. “There hasn’t been a willingness on the federal government’s part to have comprehensive immigration reform to the degree we need. That is really the foundation of the issue.”

Esther Quintanilla reports on diverse communities for KVPR through the Central Valley News Collaborative, which includes The Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle, KVPR and Radio Bilingüe.