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Denver initiates an ambitious migrant program, departing from its previous short-term shelter strategy

Brittany Gonzalez and Robinson San Juan (Via Rod Tucker/Shutterstock)

In a hotel conference room in Denver, Dallenis Martinez joined orientation alongside hundreds of other migrants on Monday for the city’s ambitious new support program. This initiative marks a significant change from previous strategies used by Denver, New York City, and Chicago, which struggled to aid thousands of migrants amidst budget cuts. Former efforts often provided short stays in shelters or bus tickets to relocate migrants.

Under Denver’s new program, Martinez, 28, and her two young children, along with approximately 650 others, are being provided with six months of housing in apartments, along with assistance for food, utilities, a computer, a prepaid cell phone, and metro bus passes.

In addition to these immediate supports, the city, in collaboration with various nonprofits, will offer courses in English language, computer skills, financial literacy, and workers’ rights.

A kid plays with his toys (Via Rod Tucker/Shutterstock)

They will also assist migrants in obtaining credentials for industries such as construction, retail, hospitality, healthcare, and early childhood education. Martinez expressed her willingness to take any job to support her children.

The program also includes assistance with asylum application paperwork and, eventually, obtaining work authorization. Its aim is to serve as a support system for new arrivals who must wait six months for a work permit after applying for asylum, using this period to prepare migrants for their new lives.

Sarah Plastino, overseeing the program, emphasized, “This investment in people aims to empower them to become self-sufficient and thrive. We believe that with the right support, people can truly succeed.”

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