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Hundreds gather over migrant housing concerns in Lakewood



‘Sanctuary city’ rumors are incorrect information, Lakewood responds

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — Concern over Lakewood becoming a sanctuary city for migrants sparked an emergency community meeting Tuesday night amid what the city is calling incorrect information about a response to the crisis.

Hundreds of citizens packed a meeting room, flowing into the parking lot. The major turnout for an emergency citizens’ town hall came after a last-minute location change. A permit was originally submitted under the group Lakewood Concerned Citizens, requesting to host the meeting at a Lakewood school.

The concerns involved the idea of Lakewood potentially housing migrants.

“I would like to make it very clear that City Council has never, in my time sitting on council, has never had a conversation around becoming a sanctuary city,” Lakewood Mayor Wendi Strom said to FOX31.

“It’s absolutely true that City Council is not discussing anything using the word sanctuary. They use words like good neighbor, welcoming, inclusive, supporting, sheltering,” said Karen Morgan, who spoke at the meeting. “Well, one definition of a sanctuary is the condition of being protected or comforted. Synonym: shelter.”

Community members say they want to know what’s happening after council members discussed meeting with Denver government officials about the migrant crisis.

“Why why did our city manager go to the city of Denver to see how they can help, how is Lakewood going to help the city of Denver with this migrant issue?” said Mary Janssen, former Lakewood City Council member.

Lakewood releases statement on migrant concerns

The city of Lakewood shared the following in part of a statement regarding this topic: “The only action City Council has taken during its January meetings has been to direct the city manager to meet with the City of Denver’s staff as quickly as possible to better understand the migrant crisis, its impacts and the needs as well as possible options for Lakewood to work with Denver on this crisis in the spirit of ‘being a good neighbor.’”

“I have met with my city manager, who was in the meeting, and there was not a request for Lakewood to house migrants at all,” Strom said. “This has created a lot of frustration and anger in our community that is not necessary. We are not making these big sweeping changes. And these would be changes that we would bring to the public if that was something that we were going to do. But that’s not happening.”

“It’s technically true. Denver may not be asking us. We’re asking them, ‘Can we help you?’” Morgan said.

The city issued the following statement in response to concerns, which is reproduced in full:

To keep residents as informed as possible, we want to address incorrect information that has appeared in opinion pieces in the news media and on social media regarding the City Council’s discussion about migrants arriving in Denver.

  • Lakewood City Council is not considering designating Lakewood as a “sanctuary city.” No council member has made this proposal, and it is not something the City Council is considering or planning to consider in the near future
  • No council member proposed housing migrants arriving in Denver in vacant Jeffco public schools, which the City of Lakewood does not own, manage, operate or control.
  • The only action City Council has taken during its January meetings has been to direct the city manager to meet with the City of Denver’s staff as quickly as possible to better understand the migrant crisis, its impacts and the needs as well as possible options for Lakewood to work with Denver on this crisis in the spirit of “being a good neighbor.” 
  • Council also directed the city manager to provide a report of the meeting with Denver staff during the Feb. 12 City Council meeting to determine any possible next steps.
  • The City Council’s discussion of this issue during its Jan. 8, 2024, meeting can be reviewed online.
  • The focus of this request is to address the humanitarian crisis through such avenues as mobilizing nonprofit organizations in Lakewood to support Denver’s needs and are not an attempt to offer housing in Lakewood. The city’s role in this example could be providing access to information and resources or connecting individuals in need with nonprofits and volunteers in our community.
  • This kind of work is a proactive step to keep the community safe, to ensure resources aren’t overwhelmed and to respond strategically and compassionately to everyone who is involved.

City of Lakewood

Community members expressed plans to attend the next city council meeting to express their concerns and listen to what the meeting with Denver entails.


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