DENVER (KDVR) — Migrant arrivals increased “significantly” in Denver this week, days before a federal asylum restriction expires, and now the city will limit who receives emergency shelter.
Starting Monday, Denver will provide emergency shelter only to new arrivals from the southern border who have been in contact with U.S. immigration officials, according to a Friday news release from the city. And emergency shelter will be offered only if there is capacity, which has been increasingly limited in the last week.
“Over the past week, the number of new arrivals has been increasing significantly,” the city said.
Denver saw about 20-30 new migrant arrivals each day through April. But on Thursday, more than 200 people arrived, according to the city.
As of Friday, more than 660 people were in Denver’s migrant shelters. The city said two of Denver’s four migrant shelters are at capacity, with the other two approaching it.
“Denver will continue to connect everyone who arrives here with support services and resources, regardless of immigration status,” the release said. “All arriving migrants and those exiting emergency shelters will be provided with backpacks filled with hygiene products and have access to the resources listed” in resource guides for immigrants and refugees. (Access those guides in Spanish and English.)
Title 42 asylum restrictions end on May 11
This increase is coming days before the expiration of Title 42. The pandemic-era federal rule suspended migrants’ right to asylum in the U.S. and was enacted to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Title 42 expires on May 11, the same day the federal public health emergency ends.
Denver is set to receive $909,000 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help with emergency food and shelter for migrants. But the city said that’s not enough.
“The city continues to call on Congress and the Biden administration to address this nationwide issue and advocate for local communities such as Denver that have been disproportionately tasked with handling and managing what is a growing national humanitarian crisis,” according to the release.
Denver said it’s sheltered and supported over 7,700 migrants since December, costing more than $14 million through May 5.
Migrant arrivals surge on southern border
Migrants have been expelled from the U.S. more than 2.8 million times since March 2020 under Title 42.
A surge of Venezuelan migrants through South Texas, particularly in and around Brownsville, has occurred over the last two weeks for reasons that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said were unclear.
On Thursday, 4,000 of about 6,000 migrants in Border Patrol custody in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley were Venezuelan.
Mayorkas noted that Mexico agreed this week to continue taking back Venezuelans who enter the U.S. illegally after asylum restrictions end Thursday, along with Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans.
The secretary reaffirmed plans to finalize a new policy by Thursday that will make it extremely difficult for migrants to seek asylum if they pass through another country, like Mexico, on their way to the U.S. border.
“The situation at the border is a very serious one, a very challenging one and a very difficult one,” Mayorkas said.
Migrant smugglers urge border crossings: officials
Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard echoed Mayorkas, who said migrant smugglers are spreading misinformation.
“We’re seeing a very significant flow (of migrants) in recent days on the basis of a hoax,” Ebrard said at a news conference. He said smugglers are saying, “’Hurry up to get to the United States by crossing Mexico because on May 11 they’re going to end Title 42.’”
“It’s a trick and they’re at risk,” Ebrard said.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador urged those who want to migrate to follow legal pathways, such as applying in U.S. processing centers scheduled to open in Guatemala and Colombia. He said Mexico was not making special preparations for the end of Title 42 because he didn’t expect a surge.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.