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Denver to limit migrants' shelter time

By BELINDA ROBINSON in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-02-02 10:55

Denver, much like New York City, will start limiting the number of days that migrant families with children can stay in city shelters and ensure that those who overstay have to leave to find their own accommodation.

Starting Feb 5, the city in Colorado, with a population just over 711,000, will become the latest city to respond to the strain that the influx of migrants who have entered the US illegally has put on the city's key services.

The city is housing 4,500 migrants. But they must now vacate the premises after 42 days. Officials said that nearly 40,000 migrants have arrived in Denver over the past year, costing the city $40 million.

The strain on the city's budget is not just being felt in its shelters but in its schools and hospitals.

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston estimated that this year the city will need $100 million to pay for services to cope with the asylum seekers.

At least 3,000 immigrant children, mainly from Venezuela, have been enrolled in the Denver public school system since July 2023, NBC News reported.

School budgets are based on the number of children enrolled in October, so the additional children have been difficult to manage financially.

Denver Health, a hospital which treats anyone in need, is also asking for help from the federal government and the state to pay its $10 million in unpaid medical services for treating migrants.

The Biden administration has asked Congress for $1.4 billion to help local governments and nonprofits for shelter, food and other help for the migrants.

But Republicans are not budging until Democrats and the White House agree to stricter immigration controls at the southern border.

The problem in Denver is being repeated in large cities across the country.

Nearly 2.5 million asylum seekers crossed the southern border in the fiscal year of 2023, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Migrants are arriving from Asia, Africa and South America. The large movement of people has caused one of the biggest population displacements in Latin America's modern history after more than 6 million Venezuelans fled their country.

In December, a record 302,000 people crossed the US' southern border. Most are likely to claim asylum. The US court system is so backed up that cases can take years to process.

In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul proposed $2.4 billion in her $233 billion budget in January to help the city manage an estimated 70,000 migrants.

Hochul said: "We must support the city of New York in this moment."

New York Mayor Eric Adams estimated that the cost of providing shelter, food and medical care for the migrants will be $10 billion by 2025.

In October, Adams placed a 60-day limit on how long migrant families with children can stay in a shelter. From January 16, he also implemented a strict curfew at four migrant shelters from 11 pm to 6 am after locals complained of anti-social behavior.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that his state had bused over 102,000 migrants to various "sanctuary" cities, including 37,500 to New York City.

Both Adams and Hochul, much like officials in Denver, have urged the federal government and President Joe Biden to do more to help fix the border crisis.

In Chicago, where thousands of migrants have arrived since 2022, Mayor Brandon Johnson announced on Jan 29 that he will delay, until March, re-enforcing the city's 60-day limit on migrants in shelters.

"This has been unprecedented. This challenge has certainly been a weight in our city," he said. "Our plan for emergency temporary shelter was never meant as a long-term housing solution.

Hundreds of migrants had faced eviction on Feb 1 from shelters. But the Chicago mayor backtracked after local aid groups pleaded for leniency. However, the city said that 5,600 new migrants would be evicted on March 16.

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