Denver Marks One Year of Emergency Response to Migrant Crisis

Published on December 15, 2023

Today marks one year since Denver declared a state of emergency in response to the influx of migrants from the southern border. Since Dec. 15, 2022, City and County of Denver employees and community partners have worked around the clock to provide shelter and resources to the hundreds of newcomers arriving every day.  

To date, Denver has served more than 31,000 migrants, enrolled more than 3,100 students in Denver Public Schools, purchased more than 14,000 bus, train and plane tickets to their final destinations, and served about 700,000 meals. More than 200 city team members have built and maintained the systems that support this work, and the city has spent more than $35 million.  

“I am incredibly proud of the way our city has stepped up to welcome newcomers and provide as many resources as possible to those searching for the American Dream,” said Mayor Mike Johnston. “This unprecedented crisis continues to escalate here in Denver, and while we will continue to provide as many resources as we can, it’s past time for the federal government to step up, support our work, and increase work authorization.” 

Community members across the city have also come together in support, donating tens of thousands of articles of clothing and giving more than $1.5 million to the Newcomers Fund, which provides financial aid directly to the nonprofits assisting newcomers. 

Local community organizations like ViVe Wellness, Papagayo, Servicios de la Raza, and El Centro Humanitario have partnered with the city to operate shelters, provide resource navigation, and connect newcomers to jobs and housing. 

In October, Mayor Johnston led a delegation of five Mayors from major American cities to urge federal officials to take immediate action on this crisis. He also traveled to Washington, DC to meet directly with senior White House officials, including Chief of Staff Jeff Zients and Senior Advisor Tom Perez, and members of Congress to lay out commonsense, bipartisan policies that would provide more support to the cities taking on this challenge. Mayor Johnston also made an ask to increase work authorization, which would provide individuals with the opportunity to make a living and significantly decrease the strain on city resources. 

Despite the tireless work, Denver is still seeing record-high numbers of migrants, many of whom are families with children, who arrive in the middle of the night in the freezing cold on buses sent from Texas. As a percentage of the city’s population, Denver has received significantly more migrants than nearly any other major American city, placing increased strain on the city budget, city workforce, and community members.  

While the city continues to work 24 hours a day to support newcomers, Mayor Johnston is working closely with the White House, Department of Homeland Security, and members of Congress to garner more resources for Denver and develop a long-term solution. 

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