City Dips Into Service Budgets To Fund Unlawful Migrant Program

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston
Denver Mayor Mike Johnston | Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston has announced a new program to assist unlawful migrants arriving in the city, which will be paid for, in part, by budget cuts in multiple city departments. 

Johnston explained that this program will set aside a total of $89.9 million to help manage the “newcomer crisis” in 2024, noting that roughly $45 million will be removed from the budgets of other city agencies to make the program work, according to Newsweek.

The Denver Asylum Seekers Program will be available to “approximately 1,000 people currently in the city’s newcomer shelter system” and will help participants obtain housing and work authorization.

Johnston said this program will provide a “sustainable plan” to help those arriving in the city while “avoiding the worst cuts to city services.” 

“So many times we were told that we couldn’t be compassionate while still being fiscally responsible. Today is proof that our hardest challenges are still solvable, and that together we are the ones who will solve them,” he said, according to The Daily Signal.

While Johnston claimed that no city employees would be fired due to these budget cuts, he confirmed that multiple city agencies would be impacted by the defunding.

The budget for the mayor’s office will be cut by an estimated 10%. The Denver Police Department funding will be reduced by about $8.4 million, which is about 1.9% of the department’s current budget, as reported by Fox News.

Additionally, the Denver Fire Department budget will be reduced by about $2.5 million, which is less than 1% of the department’s overall budget.

Much of the savings from these budget cuts are expected to come from restrictions on hiring new employees rather than releasing current employees from their roles, per Fox News.

The City of Denver had previously considered asking landlords to house unlawful migrant arrivals.

Jon Ewing, a Denver Human Services spokesperson, previously said the city “put out a feeler” to landlords in the city to determine if it would be an option, but no decision had been made at the time. 

“Basically said, listen, we’re going to have some newcomers who are going to need housing,” he said, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Although it remains unclear whether asking landlords to house unlawful migrants is a possibility, the Denver Asylum Seekers Program is meant to help manage the crisis as a whole and move the city forward.

The ongoing influx of unlawful migrants into the country has created a crisis for many states across the nation, with multiple state governors voicing their concern about the high number of crossings.

A coalition of 25 Republican governors issued a joint statement to President Joe Biden in February to express support for Texas in its effort to manage this crisis, writing that “President Biden and his Administration have left Americans and our country completely vulnerable to unprecedented illegal immigration pouring across the Southern border.”

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