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A city of 710,000 struggles to cope with 40,000 migrant arrivals

Written by on January 28, 2024

Nearly 40,000 migrants have arrived in Denver over the past year, making a city with a population of just over 710,000 the top destination per capita for newly arrived migrants crossing the U.S. southern border and traveling north in buses from Texas.

The influx is taking a toll on the city’s public safety net. Starting Feb. 5, Denver will limit the number of days migrants can stay in shelters and send those who exceed their stay out onto the streets.

One Venezuelan family, a mother, father and their three daughters, told NBC News they’ve been staying at a hotel paid for by the city, but they’ve just received notice that they’ll be evicted.

“Just yesterday they started throwing away the toys, the bicycles in the common area,” the mother said. “We don’t know where we will go next.”

Denver Health, the city’s “safety net” hospital, is asking for more money from both the state and federal government to help cover $10 million in unpaid medical bills from migrants.

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston estimates the city will need $100 million over 2024 to pay for housing, schooling, health care and other services as a result of the unexpected influx of migrants.

Dr. Steven Federico, a pediatrician and chief of government and community affairs at Denver Health, said the hospital has reached out to state and federal agencies for help.

“I think it’s been an unheeded call so far in terms of who’s going to be responsible for the health care of this population,” Federico told NBC News. “In the meantime, it falls on safety net hospitals like Denver Health.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that the agency will continue to work with the city in welcoming recently arrived migrants. “We continue to urge Congress to approve our supplemental request, provide us with the resources to manage the Southwest Border in a humane, safe, and orderly manner, and provide communities across the country with the financial support they need,” the spokesperson added.

by Julia Ainsley and Didi Martinez | NBC NEWS

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