Mural in Denver
A mural in Denver van de Sande

Denver has received some 42,000 migrants since 2022, when Texas' "Lone Star Operation" began bussing many of those arriving to the state to Democratic-led sanctuary cities across the country.

Like other cities, Denver has been struggling to accommodate the continued flow of arrivals, its budget under pressure as a result of greater needs to address their needs. And while many have already left to other cities where they have friends or family, many others have stayed, their intention being to settle there.

Chicago and New York have been reducing the amount of time migrants can stay in shelters. Denver has also scaled back its short-term sheltering assistance, according to a recent report by NPR.

But city authorities have also started implementing a more comprehensive program, seeking to help migrants build a more stable life. The Denver Asylum Seekers Program provides six months of housing, job training, language instruction and legal support. The period is not random, as applications for job permits typically last that amount of time, NBC News reported.

In an interview with the outlet, city mayor Mike Johnston said that authorities "tried to use that six-month waiting period as an opportunity instead of a problem." About 800 people have been admitted in the program, with more expected to be added by the end of the month.

"We have people arriving in the city who desperately want to work, who have skills and talent and discipline. We have employers in the city who are starving to find employees, and they desperately want to hire them," Johnston added." So when that work authorization comes, you already have the skills, the training, the authorization, the certification to step onto a job on Day One and be a huge asset to a Denver employer."

Johnston estimated that the new program, along with other migrant response spending, will cost about $90 million this year. The sources to cover $44 million of that have already been identified, while the remaining amount is set to be covered by a package of budget cuts. However, the goal is not to reach that amount of spending.

That includes an outlined $5.3 million worth of cuts to the Denver Police Department. That number represents the police budget to fill vacant positions, The Denver Post reported in April.

But nevertheless, the mayor says, the budget cut will not have an impact on the number of officers already in the streets. Instead, the city will delay investments such as furniture purchases and new police department buildings.

City spokesperson Jon Ewing said the shift is also possible as a result of fewer arrivals during the past months. About three in four who reach Denver immediately ask to be sent elsewhere, he said.

In contrast, there are over 7,200 migrants in Chicago shelters at the moment, according to city data, the figure being almost 66,000 for New York City last week.

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