This year there has been an avalanche of migration in Denver and Colorado, where the million-dollar official aid is not enough to face the arrival of “ghost buses” full of foreignhundreds of whom even set up camp in a drainage tunnel in Fort Collins in the cold and lack of shelter.
Colorado, as well as Illinois, New York and Massachusetts, are part of the destination of migrants sent by land and air by politicians from red states such as Texas and Florida, in protest of President Joe Biden’s immigration policy.
“I need help with food and I need to get a job. I don’t have anywhere to stay either. I have no way to make calls or access to Wifi”Venezuelan Marcelo told EFE desperately, while waiting for help in front of a community center in Denver.
“Friend, I don’t like to ask, I want to work. Do you get me? I’m looking for a church that can help with work because I can’t handle the cold anymore. “I haven’t had shelter for days and I can’t stand walking for hours.”explained the migrant who arrived in Denver a week ago and preferred not to give his last name.
Marcelo is one of the more than 33,000 immigrants, mainly Venezuelans and Colombians, and now also Dominicans, who began arriving in Denver since December 2022.
Since then, the municipality has allocated US$33 million for accommodation, food and health expenses, a figure three times higher than the city’s annual emergency budget.
Hostels for life
According to Denver Human Services (DHS), currently about 3,000 immigrants remain in municipal shelters and it is anticipated that this number will increase in the coming days because every day 100 to 200 more arrive from Texas to Colorado in the so-called “ghost buses”.
“If the numbers increase, if people do not leave (the shelters), it will create a conflict and a problem”DHS spokesman Jon Ewing told reporters, adding that “in the long term we will need to get families out of the shelters so that they can work and be in another situation.”
Meanwhile, potentially thousands of other immigrants, including families with children, live in “camps” in Denver, as well as in makeshift shelters in small towns in Colorado.
In Denver “We don’t want to see children on the streets”so families with small children will be able to stay in municipal shelters “All the time needed” during the winter, Ewing said. He added that single people will only be able to stay 14 days.
For her part, Cristy, who arrived in Denver in November, says she can’t get formula for her baby. “I have been arriving with my family and my children and we do not have any type of help to eat. “I would like to have free food, but they don’t bring it to where I am and I can’t go get it,” he asserted.
He said he has tried to contact several local charities and Denver emergency services, but the phones are always busy.
“I’m Venezuelan. I have been in Denver for a month and I still have not been able to enter any assistance program.”Juan López shared in turn.
Denver, Ewing said, will implement “big long-term changes” to help migrants, including hiring about 150 full-time bilingual employees this week.
Surprise in schools
On the other hand, the massive arrival of Hispanic children has saturated the schools of Denver and its suburbs, which also lack bilingual teachers.
Denver Public Schools (DPS) welcomed 2,200 new students since this new school year. Another 1,600 students arrived at Aurora Public Schools (APS, east of Denver), mainly from Venezuela and Colombia, but also from Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.
DPS transformed some school libraries into classrooms and in one case created a “school within the school” focused on new students.
“Frankly, we were really caught off guard at the schools, (but) we are very happy to have them (the immigrant children) here.”said Nadia Madan-Morrow, principal of DPS Place Bridge Academy, where Hispanics are the predominant group with 36% of the 1,000 students.
Those immigrant families who move to small towns far from Denver due to the cost of housing in the state capital carry the same problems with them.
As far away as Durango, in the southwest corner of Colorado, local schools welcomed 29 new students who were children of immigrants. And in Brighton, northeast of Denver, 273 new students showed up on the first day of school.
And, in many cases, new immigrants cannot find housing to rent, much less to buy.
Fort Morgan, on the eastern prairies of Colorado, has become, due to the local meat processing industry, a preferred location for Hispanic immigrants, who now represent the 53% of the 11,000 inhabitants. But there are few homes available.
In Fort Collins, in northern Colorado, police reported this week the discovery of a “camp” inside a drainage tunnel where there were about 400 people, many of them apparently immigrants.
And in the small town of Rifle, in western Colorado, about 100 immigrants lived under a bridge.
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