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Denver sends staff to El Paso to head off migrants


(The Center Square)— The city of Denver received an update this week on a program where they sent employees to Texas to let migrants know that Denver is no longer a long-term solution.

The city of Denver sent two full-time employees to El Paso, Texas for two months in April and May to discuss sheltering policies and how to deal with the influx of migrants overwhelming the city. The Newcomer Program Short-Term Sheltering packet was presented at the newly founded June 4 Newcomer Response Working Group meeting.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott stated in late May that Texas has shipped 18,900 migrants to Denver since 2023. Now, Denver has put boots down in El Paso to advise migrants on their choices.

In January, Denver Mayor Mike Johnston explained the El Paso to Denver connection.

“We are the closest, cheapest bus ticket from El Paso,” Johnston said in January. “It’s the cheapest ticket for [Texas] Governor [Greg] Abbott and anyone else to buy, so they just come to Denver. We think that is unsustainable for this city.”

Materials presented to the newly formed Newcomer Response Working Group paints a picture of a city that can no longer offer long-term shelter for arriving migrants.

The city’s official policy states, “Denver receives newcomers safely and assists in reunification with support networks. Shelter is limited to a brief duration long enough to facilitate migrant decision-making and transition.” The intent is also to help migrants find long-term living arrangement outside of Denver.

The policy involves getting arriving migrants to arrange living situations with family and friends. The “intent” is to take away incentives like long-term sheltering that could attract even more migrants to Denver.

The presentation stressed the city’s “Short-Term Sheltering Policy”

The Newcomer Program Short-Term Sheltering packet covers the short-term sheltering policy, the path of a newcomer through short-term sheltering, El Paso operations, reception & intake, short-term shelter, and case navigation.

The employees who went to El Paso established contact with shelter managers and migrants who have decided to make Denver their destination while “Assuring dissemination of accurate information/combat misinformation so newcomers make more informed travel decisions,” according to the packet.

“We sent teams to El Paso for a number of reasons, including to build relationships with shelter managers on the border, develop real time data on trends, and combat misinformation surrounding what options are available in Denver.” Marketing and Communications Specialist for Denver Human Services, Jon Ewing in an email to The Center Square.

“It’s very important to us that we’re able to level set with newcomers so they’re able to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.” Ewing continued.

After arriving from El Paso, migrants are offered a night’s stay and breakfast at the Quality Inn Zuni. After eating, they are offered to be bussed to the Denver intake center. Then, the Vive employees will help migrants decide whether to be picked up, travel to another location that offers alternative services, or stay in Denver’s short-term shelter for up to three days.

Migrants are offered single or family shelters depending on their needs. There are currently two options for singles: Quality Inn Zuni and Comfort Inn Peoria, while Denver Community Church serves families.