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Denver Struggles to Provide Shelter and Assistance to Migrants in Freezing Cold

Denver, facing an unprecedented influx of migrants and frigid winter temperatures, is grappling with a humanitarian crisis.

The city has witnessed a surge in arrivals from outside its borders, causing overcrowded shelters and life-threatening conditions.

This situation has raised concerns about the well-being of both migrants and the city’s resources.

Unplanned Arrival in Denver

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The migrants who have arrived in Denver did not originally plan to make the city their destination.

Many embarked on months-long journeys away from persecution or deprivation in search of safety and the American Dream.

Governor Abbott’s Busing Strategy

Credit: Gov. Greg Abbott / National Governors Association

However, the Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, offered free bus rides to asylum seekers to relocate them out of his state, with the options primarily being New York, Chicago, or Denver.

Mayors Seek National Solution

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The mayors of New York, Chicago, and Denver have jointly called for a national solution to address the arrival of migrants.

They emphasize the need for a coordinated entry system to manage the situation effectively.

Abbott’s View

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In contrast, Abbott has maintained that the responsibility lies with the federal government to secure the border.

Texas Sends Thousands to Denver

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Since May, Texas has sent approximately 15,700 people to Denver.

Initially, these were primarily Venezuelans seeking asylum under the Temporary Protected Status program. Denver successfully integrated them into the community.

Program Expanded

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However, the Biden administration expanded the program but limited it to Venezuelans who arrived before August 1, excluding most newer arrivals in Denver.

A Grueling Journey to Safety

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Migrants who fled Venezuela due to dire economic conditions endured a treacherous journey through the Darién Gap, traveling thousands of miles across Central America and Mexico to reach the US border.

Once bussed to Denver, they found themselves at an encampment under a bridge, north of downtown.

Harsh Winter Conditions

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As winter intensifies, migrants face harsh conditions.

As reported by CNN, some have no shoes, and they layer socks for minimal protection from the cold.

Inside tents, they use polystyrene foam for insulation, and donated mattresses provide warmth and comfort.

The Plight of Children

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Young children have faced particularly challenging conditions.

The cold weather and exposure made him ill, highlighting the dire circumstances they endured.

Limited Employment Opportunities

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Many migrants, eager to work and support themselves, face hurdles due to their legal status.

Without work authorization, some seek off-the-books employment, congregating outside hardware stores, hoping for day labor jobs in construction or snow shoveling.

However, work opportunities remain uncertain.

City’s Struggle to Provide Shelter

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Denver has updated its policies on housing migrant families, with initial stays for new arrivals extended to six weeks.

However, it faces an estimated annual cost of $180 million for migrant services. This financial strain could lead to budget cuts in essential city services.

The Need for Federal Support

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Mayor Johnston emphasizes the importance of work authorization, federal funding, and a coordinated entry system to address the ongoing crisis.

He believes this multifaceted approach is necessary to ensure both the well-being of migrants and the sustainability of cities.

Local Acts of Kindness

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Despite the challenges, Denver residents have demonstrated compassion and kindness.

Some have opened their homes and places of worship to provide shelter, food, and support to migrants in need.

The Growing Strain on Resources

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The influx of migrants has strained resources, and the needs of new arrivals are competing with those who have already experienced homelessness.

Overcrowded shelters and limited capacity have intensified the challenges.

Major Cuts In City Budgets

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Mayor Johnston is looking at Denver having to foot an annual bill of $180 million for migrant services, which would lead to major cuts in other city budgets.

Hard Decisions Coming

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He said, “We don’t want to take police officers off the street. We don’t want to take firefighters off the street.

We don’t want to not do trash pickup or not have our parks and recreation centers open. But hard decisions are coming, he said.”

A Spirit of Resilience

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Despite the difficulties, Mayor Johnston finds inspiration in the migrants’ determination to create better lives for their families.

He emphasizes the importance of supporting their journey to success while acknowledging their resilience and spirit.

Continuing Crisis

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As the crisis persists, Mayor Johnston underscores the city’s commitment to ensuring that women and children do not endure homelessness in severe weather conditions.

The need for intervention remains paramount in Denver’s ongoing humanitarian challenge.

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