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City will no longer shelter migrants who have not started asylum process

The city's decision comes after FEMA will no longer reimburse costs related to migrants who have not started the process – the rule goes into effect on May 8.

DENVER, Colorado — Since December, the City of Denver has helped over 6,000 migrants seek shelter and services, many of whom went through immigration at the border and others who did not. 

From the beginning, December would shelter migrants in city shelters regardless of immigration status. On Thursday, the city announced that they will only shelter migrants who have presented themselves to the government, whether at the border or afterwards. The change will go into effect on May 8 for any newly-arriving migrants thereafter. 

The decision comes directly as a result of federal reimbursement. Denver says it cannot continue supporting migrants without additional financial help from the federal government. 

"So I think anytime that decisions are made within the city that are impacting people and vulnerable populations it is a tough decision," said Victoria Aguilar with Denver Human Services. "Ultimately the decision came as a result of the limitations of funding. It really does come down to the fact that it is not a sustainable system effort in Denver to be able to support all migrants coming in from our southern border.”   

All of those who have sought asylum or presented themselves to the government have an accompanying A-number, which follows them through immigration proceedings. 

An A-number, also known as an alien registration number, is a unique seven-, eight- or nine-digit number assigned to a noncitizen by the Department of Homeland Security.

The federal government has created a requirement that in order to provide funding or reimbursement for costs related to migrants, they must have proof of an A-number to be reimbursed for costs related to that specific individual and their family. 

Beginning May 8, the City and County of Denver will follow federal guidance to provide emergency shelter only to newly arriving migrants who have been encountered by U.S. immigration officials and thus, have an A-number attached to their specific case. 

The city chose to move forward with the guidance as a result of funding limitations, and a lack of reimbursement for those who have no encountered immigration officials. 

Since December, Denver has sheltered 6,392 migrants from the southern border. In that effort, the city has been $12.7 million. 

The city said it will continue to connecting everyone with services and resources but shelter accommodations will be limited to those who can prove they are known by the U.S. government.  

The city also said that it is urging Congress to provide assistance to local communities who are disproportionately tasked with handling and managing what is a growing national humanitarian crisis.

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