Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer addressed the situation where a group of Venezuelan migrants seeking political asylum were shipped to Fresno.
Dyer said the migrants need to be transported back to El Paso to be processed.
The big picture: Dyer and Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias held a press conference Friday afternoon at City Hall to reveal what they know about the asylum seekers.
- On Jan. 27, as many as 16 asylum seekers showed up in Fresno on a bus and went to a warming center located near the Poverello House.
- There was no indication at the time that they were asylum seekers from Venezuela.
- The city learned on Thursday that the migrants had shown up in a bus the previous Saturday.
- In total, four families make up the group, which includes four children.
- Arias made arrangements for the migrants to stay at a La Quinta, where they were still at on Friday.
- The city made contact with immigration services and had attorneys meeting with the families.
- The migrants were originally in El Paso, where officials placed them on a bus and gave them options of where to go to. The families chose Denver, but when they arrived there they were bused to California. Dyer said many of the people thought they were going to Indio.
- Fresno County will have social services meet with the migrants on Saturday morning.
What they’re saying: “These are not refugees,” Dyer said. “These are asylum seekers. These are people who have fled their country for whatever reason. They have not been established yet legally as refugees. And what we are doing in the City of Fresno is somewhat of a triage.”
- Dyer said the city is ensuring that the migrants have food, shelter and health needs met.
- “We don’t have the legal ability to take these 16 people and put them on a bus against their will and ship them to another city,” Dyer said. “We do not have that authority, according to our city attorney’s office. However, we can, with their permission, facilitate the transportation of those folks back to El Paso, and that is our desire. We would like to see them transported back to where there is services that they can receive and certainly to be able to go through the process of meeting their hearing dates.”