Denver, CO

Denver extends disaster declaration over migrants

David Heitz
Photo byKyle Glenn/Unsplash

The Denver City Council will vote Monday to extend the disaster declaration in the county related to sheltering migrants through April 24. It was set to expire March 27.

Denver, a self-proclaimed “sanctuary city,” has provided services to more than 5,000 migrants so far. Mayor Michael Hancock issued the declaration in December. Last month, the council also extended it at his request.

According to the city’s asylum seekers dashboard, as of March 16 5,686 migrants have received services thus far. Non-profits have sheltered more than 1,162 migrants in hotels and motels. Denver houses 135 migrants in city facilities. That number is up from 80 three weeks ago.

Denver has spent more than $5 million feeding and housing migrants in recent weeks. “The continued influx to Denver of migrants seeking shelter and asylum from foreign countries has significantly increased the need to provide shelter, transportation, food and services, basic health and first aid needs, COVID-19 testing and associated medical care needed during quarantine and isolation and other supportive services within the city,” according to a memo from Skye Stuart of the Mayor’s Office to the council.

The memo says the added expense “is straining city resources and will be exacerbated by any inclement weather. Out of an abundance of caution for continued needs and demands on city resources, this action intends to further extend the current declaration in order to facilitate the ability to expedite procurement for critical services that provide shelter and services for migrants and asylum seekers in the city and continuing to arrive in the city, among other time-sensitive needs.”

Immigrant legal assistance

A City Council committee will vote next week to add $250,000 to a contract with the Denver Foundation to provide legal assistance to immigrants facing deportation. That comes to a total of $2.2 million spent.

Since its inception in September 2018, the Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund has served 1504 Denver residents and families, according to a memo to council from Human Rights and Community Partnerships. For fiscal year 2021-22, 814 residents have received direct immigration legal representation.

According to the memo, “the continued funding of $250,000 will continue to match previous numbers of residents represented and assist in expanding support to some of the 420 eligible Denver residents unable to be served due to organizational capacity.”

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

Denver, CO

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