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Denver is closing immigrant shelters due to budget concerns

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Denver mayor closes shelters, migrants, immigration
Denver closing immigrant shelters (Photo: Carlos Moreno)
  • Denver closing immigrant shelters.
  • Budget crisis affects immigration services.
  • The mayor addresses the situation.

A drastic measure has taken thousands of immigrants in Denver by surprise.

Mayor Mike Johnston announced the closure of shelters and the cancellation of assistance programs for newly arrived undocumented individuals in the city.

«We knew that, as a result of federal inaction, there were measures we needed to take. We will be closing four of our migrant shelters,» the mayor announced on X (formerly Twitter).

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Johnston explained that the closures are due to a multimillion-dollar budget deficit in 2024 and will take effect throughout March, during which one immigrant shelter will close per week.

Currently, Denver has seven non-congregate hotel shelters, one congregate shelter, with another on standby if needed, and a transitional housing facility.

The mayor did not specify which one is first on the list for closure.

However, he noted that his «plan is to try to close the shelters and keep them closed,» emphasizing that they are familiar with those who seek refuge in these spaces and are working to ensure they have a safe place to go.

Denver closes immigrant shelters

 Denver, mayor, Mike Johnston, closure, shelters, MundoNow
PHOTO: Carlos Moreno

Denver is closing immigrant shelters because the city is facing a budget deficit of around $180 million, and the closure of the shelters would save Denver approximately $60 million in costs for the 2024 budget.

«This means we still have work to do throughout the city to make up for the remaining $120 million,» the mayor explained at a press conference.

But this isn’t the only measure the city has taken in response to the unexpected arrival of thousands of undocumented immigrants, mostly from Venezuela.

In late 2023, the mayor announced the modification of immigrant shelter policies to reduce the length of stay for families in those spaces.

Cities affected by an influx of immigrants

newcomers, city, federal inaction, shelters, migrants, MundoNow
Denver closing immigrant shelters / PHOTO Carlos Moreno

Similarly, the city has worked to assist immigrants in completing and submitting their work authorization documents and finding temporary housing, Johnston assured.

Authorities estimate that Denver has invested over $120 million in immigrant aid since late 2022 to date. Despite closing the four hotels, the Democratic mayor emphasized they aren’t giving up.

«It was almost as if the federal government wanted to prove they could make the hill steeper, thinking we would give up. We didn’t. We’re finding a way.»

The city of Denver hasn’t been the only one affected by the surge in the migrant crisis; the lack of resources has strained several American institutions.

ICE responds to budget concerns

cancellation, programs, assistance, undocumented, MundoNow
Denver closing immigrant shelters / PHOTO Carlos Moreno

In mid-February, it fell to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to disclose possible measures they could take in response to an impending budget deficit.

Among the strategies proposed would be releasing undocumented individuals and canceling deportations in order to maintain ICE’s operations, as anonymously conveyed by officials.

Despite the financial challenges, there is still no clear solution to the growing influx of immigrants crossing the southern border.

All indications suggest that changes in border policies will depend on the outcomes of the upcoming presidential election.

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