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Denver mayor visits nation's capital to push for more help on migrant crisis

Meanwhile, a Denver church opens overnight shelter to help migrants escape from bitter cold
emergency overnight migrant shelter in denver.jpg
Posted at 4:41 PM, Jan 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-16 19:27:26-05

DENVER — Mayor Mike Johnston is making another trip to the nation’s capital this week to press federal leaders to do more to help the city manage the migrant crisis.

The mayor’s office said Johnston “will continue urging federal lawmakers to pass legislation to manage the migrant crisis and support American cities, like Denver, in addition to attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors.”

Johnston’s office also said he would meet with White House and Biden Administration officials, members of Congress and other mayors during his visit.

Johnston is pushing for more work authorization, a coordinated entry program, and more federal funding.

As of Tuesday, the city has spent $38 million to help support over 37,000 migrants.

Johnston’s visit to Washington, D.C. comes as Denver thaws out from an arctic blast that sent temperatures below zero.

Ahead of the storm, the city moved migrants to indoor emergency shelters.

One of those shelters is located at Denver Friends Church.

The church’s pastor, Keith Reeser, said the overnight emergency shelter opened last week.

“People are able to come in. They're able to get food. We have a meal that's provided for them. We're able to allow them to have showers,” said Reeser. “A little bit of normalcy and a warm spot to sleep each night.”

Denver mayor visits nation's capital to push for more help on migrant crisis

Denver7 spoke with one of the families staying at the shelter, a family of four adults and four children.

Like others fleeing the economic crisis in Venezuela, they said they came to the U.S. seeking a better life.

“We wanted to come here to the United States because we want to work, we want to get a house. We didn’t have that house in Venezuela. We couldn’t work in Venezuela,” one of the mothers said.

Their children also couldn’t go to school.

“We want them to be able to study. They're going to be the first generation that will be able to study,” the other mother, her sister, said.

After arriving in Colorado, they were able to get an apartment in Aurora.

But their stay was short.

They were unable to pay the rent, which was over $2,000, and were evicted.

“When I got wind of this, they said ‘Could you come pick us up?’ So last night, I made a run to go pick them up,” said Reeser.

Reeser brought them to the shelter at his church.

“And it's been beautiful to be able to get them to safety,” said Reeser.

The family is now trying to figure out their next step.

The church’s emergency overnight shelter has room to accommodate up to 29 people each night.

The shelter is open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. any night the temperature falls below 32 degrees.

Reeser says his church will continue doing its part to support migrant families throughout the winter.

“They are simply trying to survive and trying to start a new life,” Reese said.

He said they could always use more volunteers to staff the shelter during the overnight hours.

Anyone interested in volunteering can call the church office at 303-455-7604.

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