DENVER (KDVR) — Hundreds of migrants have made their way to the city of Denver this week. While leaders were able to get some questions answered about their arrival, what happens now that they are here?
The good news for people who migrated here is that there are resources in the Mile High City to help them on their journey. Some experts say what we saw this week is just the beginning.
“You know, we are just waiting on the policies to kind of rule and actually get put in place. Once that’s going, this holiday season is going to be busy,” immigration attorney Cash Fazal said. People in her field have seen situations like this past week in Denver play out across the nation.
“I know that Denver has somehow arranged an emergency shelter, which I believe which I believe is probably going to turn into a refugee camp,” Fazal said.
Venezuelans offered humanitarian parole
Representatives for the city said at a press briefing Wednesday that social media played a role in people deciding to come here.
Some came from Venezuela, which has a Temporary Protection Status designation through March of next year. That status allows Venezuelans to live and work in the U.S. for two years, but it only applies to people who have been here since at least last spring.
“Anyone arriving after that deadline is not eligible for that for that same protection. That being said, there has been some other proposals to try to acknowledge the unfolding crisis,” said Rebecca Galemba, co-director of the University of Denver Center for Immigration and Policy Research. “In Venezuela particularly, President Biden put a humanitarian parole program into effect, which would parole in a cap of 24,000 Venezuelans — very similar to the program that was developed for Ukrainians.”
Experts said the key to that program is knowing someone who is already here.
“That allows sponsors here in the United States to financially sponsor and agree to House migrants from Venezuela,” said Violeta Chapin, clinical professor of law at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder. “And that is a way that Venezuelans can then lawfully fly to the United States, right? They don’t have to do this very dangerous voyage where people are losing their lives.”
Title 42 removal policy taken to court
Title 42 is a policy that went into effect before Biden took office. It allows migrants to be removed promptly from the border because of COVID-19 concerns. A court recently moved to block that policy from being used. The Biden administration wants to appeal that decision.
There is a renewed call in Congress for lawmakers to take up a bill that would uphold the security aspects of Title 42 while also upholding protections for DACA recipients. Experts said due to economic and political unrest in Venezuela as well as some uncertain immigration policy here in the U.S., now is an interesting time to see an influx of newcomers.
“People often will go to where they have social networks who can help support them, who perhaps may be able to assist them with their asylum claims,” Galemba said. “Although, I have been doing some observations in immigration court, and actually, what the judges are seeing here in Denver is that they’ve seen an increase of people actually coming through who don’t have those support networks, which oftentimes makes it more difficult for them to pursue their cases in immigration court.”
“It could have been heard, this is frequently communicated, The United States right now is being particularly receptive to Venezuelan migrants, and so that will then potentially spur more people to try to come,” Chapin said. “It is true that in October of this year, October 2022, the department announced a sponsorship program for Venezuelans, which is mirrored off the sponsorship program that the Biden administration created for the people from Ukraine.”
How to help migrants in Denver
Some Coloradans did sponsor Ukrainian refugees when they fled the country earlier this year. Immigration advocates hope they do the same for Venezuelans.
Seeing that policy reform often takes time. experts say the best way to support the city now is to continue to give monetary donations to Denver Community Church, American Friends Service Committee, or the Colorado Hosting Asylum Network.
If you know a migrant in need of legal services, Fazal does pro bono legal work and may be able to assist or connect newcomers.