by Lindsey Toomer, Colorado Newsline
December 13, 2022
Denver is still housing a large number of migrants as they continue to arrive in the city, helping connect them to their loved ones and resources to support their transition.
As of Monday, Denver’s emergency shelter housed 153 migrants, while another 48 were relocated to a church-run shelter. An additional 52 migrants stayed at local homeless shelters overnight, and 35 are preparing for reunification with family and transitioning out of the city’s shelter.
The city estimates about 600 migrants have arrived in Denver over the past few months, according to a news release.
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Physical donations are being accepted at Iglesia Ciudad de Dios, located at 5255 W. Warren Ave. in Denver. Donations are accepted from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The city updates its website with details on the items it needs most, specifically clothing for adults sizes small through large and winter weather clothing.
Jennifer Piper, who works with the American Friends Service Committee’s local immigrant rights program, said newcomers from outside the U.S. have been coming into Colorado in increased numbers since around April. She said most of the migrants have family or loved ones they are trying to connect with in Colorado.
While Denver is currently reporting higher numbers of migrants arriving, it’s possible this could be happening across the state as a whole. She said if there are cities and towns experiencing this, AFSC wants to connect them with resources to help.
“We would like to bring them into the conversation and connect them to folks who could potentially help protect the safety of the migrants and help the community be able to show them welcome with dignity,” Piper said.
There are a lot of models that we can draw from where folks are receiving much larger numbers of people than Denver is … This is an opportunity for Colorado to just do a little small part of living up to our values.
– Jennifer Piper, of the American Friends Service Committee
Piper estimated about half of the migrants coming through Denver are trying to connect with loved ones, and she said the city is doing a good job of supporting the people as they try to get transportation to do so. But for those without personal connections in Colorado, Piper said it’s up to the community to help support them. Most of those in need of this support are from Venezuela, she said.
“The situation in Venezuela right now is so difficult that it’s really an output of people of all different walks of life,” Piper said. “I think our community would be stronger and benefit from helping those folks get on their feet and be a part of the cities that we live in.”
Piper said the asylum restrictions leading to this influx come from Title 42, which starting at the height of the pandemic closed the country’s borders to anyone seeking asylum. There was some variations in how the policy was implemented until a federal court recently struck down the use of Title 42 to expel migrants, but Piper said the Biden administration is looking to appeal that decision.
Before it was struck down, the policy led to groups of people who had spent months traveling from Venezuela to the U.S.-Mexico border being turned away, Piper said, and they were stuck in Mexico gathering resources to try and cross the border. Instead of approaching the U.S. Border Patrol seeking asylum, they can enter the country and then request asylum status within a year of being in the U.S.
“That means you have to get across the border on your own and then apply, so that’s what’s happening,” Piper said. “People are accessing their asylum right by the only way that the administration is allowing them to, and so they’re not a part of that more coordinated flow.”
Piper said the current migrant situation shows how Colorado is joining the club of states, such as Arizona and New Mexico, near the border that need to be able to support incoming migrants. Phoenix, for example, runs its own shelter designated for migrants coming into the city, she said.
“There are a lot of models that we can draw from where folks are receiving much larger numbers of people than Denver is,” Piper said. “This is an opportunity for Colorado to just do a little small part of living up to our values and showing that same welcome that people have been receiving for decades in El Paso and Phoenix and Albuquerque.”
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