Denver’s getting $8.6 million from the federal government to cover the its migrant response spending

Denver has now recovered more than half of the more than $17.8 million it has spent on sheltering migrants.
2 min. read
Piles of donated items available for people arriving from the U.S. southern border inside a rec center serving as Denver’s second emergency shelter. Jan. 6, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The city of Denver has now recovered more than half of what it has spent on sheltering and providing service to migrants arriving from the U.S. border after being awarded more than $8.6 million by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. But city officials say Denver could need millions more to fully cover costs.

Denver has spent more than $17.8 million sheltering around 11,400 migrants who have arrived in the city from the U.S. border since December of 2022, according to a statement sent by Mayor Michael Hancock's office. In addition to the $8.6 million, the city has received another 909,000 in federal dollars and $3.5 million from the state.

"We have about a $5.57M gap remaining," said Hancock spokesperson Michael Strott. "But we're still incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars every week and millions of dollars more will be needed to keep us whole for the duration of this year and beyond."

When daily migrant arrivals reached into the hundreds last winter and again this past May, Denver mobilized emergency shelters and welcome centers. Hancock has repeatedly called on the federal government to step up its financial and logistical support as the city's existing resources are stretched thin.

"I'm thrilled that Homeland Security has granted Denver more funding to cover a portion of the nearly $18 million the city has spent responding to the migrant influx since December," Hancock wrote in a statement Monday. "I want to thank Secretary Mayorkas for listening to our calls for support, as well as Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper and Congresswoman DeGette for their tireless advocacy to secure these much-needed funds."

The federal money comes after a shift in record keeping requirements.

In April, the city announced that it would only shelter migrants who have been processed by immigration authorities in order to comply with federal reimbursement requirements. That change brought criticism from immigration advocates, but when arrivals spiked again in May, city officials said that Denver was serving everyone.

On Friday, the city announced that it is demobilizing its emergency operations center, after daily migrant arrivals dropped to double digits in recent weeks. But if and when arrivals and shelter spending may rise again is unpredictable. In a May letter to Hancock about the 2024 budget, City Council asked the mayor's office to anticipate more migrant spending next year.

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