Representatives from Denver’s Health and Human Services Agency (DHS) recently traveled to El Paso, TX to advise migrants and service organizations about changes to Denver’s immigration policies and to let migrants know what to expect if they choose to go to the Mile High City.
The Denver Asylum Seeker Program was announced by Mayor Mike Johnston and is designed to focus on providing necessary services, (food, housing, job training, etc), for up to six months to a limited number of migrants. The program moves away from providing longer term emergency services to all. There are currently about 800 people sheltering in Denver and the new program will allow for up to 1, 000 participants starting with those 800.
Arrivals after April 10 will be placed into the program on a space available basis and those not admitted to the program will be sheltered for up to 72 hours and then will be redirected to outside services, relatives or given the opportunity to move on to another city.
Cities, which in the past have been hospitable to migrants with shelter, food and other services, are finding that resources have been stretched thin or exhausted and are moving toward modified assistance plans. At one point, Denver was using seven hotels and two other sites for sheltering migrants and now they are down to one hotel and one congregate site. Mayor Johnston indicated that Denver is not necessarily a planned destination city for migrants leaving El Paso, but that they are being put on buses to Denver because the distance is relatively short and the bus fare is cheap.
Denver’s previous program structure was projected to incur a cost of $180 million dollars in 2024.