Denver to Cut Funds From City Agencies to Control Migrant Influx

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston is planning to cut $45 million from city agencies including the police to help fund a program to deal with a recent increase in migrants.

Johnston announced this week that the Colorado capital was budgeting $89.9 million to respond to “the newcomer crisis” with a program that his office said would be “providing a long-term, sustainable” solution “that avoids significant cuts to public services.”

The Denver Police Department budget would be cut by approximately 1.9 percent under the plan, or $8.4 million, mostly from a hiring freeze for positions that are currently open, according to Denver NBC affiliate KUSA. 

Johnston spokesperson Jordan Fuja said that the “adjustment to the Denver Police Department’s budget was carefully crafted with safety leaders and Mayor Johnston to ensure there would be no impact to the department’s public services,” Newsweek reported.

“To say that Denver is ‘defunding the police’ is a willful mischaracterization of the budget adjustments, which actually just delays the purchase of new furniture and shifts the funding source for one cadet class,” Fuja said.

“In fact, Mayor Johnston has invested millions to add 167 new police recruits to our force in 2024, and will continue to invest in public safety to ensure every Denverite is safe in their city,” she added.

According to Johnston, the Denver Asylum Seekers Program will help migrants secure housing and work authorization for up to six months after they apply for asylum.

“Individuals arriving in Denver after April 10 will be provided a short-term stay at a congregate site along with assistance securing onward travel to another destination,” the mayor’s office said in a news release. “Newcomers who choose to remain in Denver may utilize available local and community support.”

Johnston said in a statement that the city “finally has a sustainable plan for treating our newcomers with dignity while avoiding the worst cuts to city services” following “more than a year of facing this crisis.”

“So many times we were told that we couldn’t be compassionate while still being fiscally responsible,” Johnston said. “Today is proof that our hardest challenges are still solvable, and that together we are the ones who will solve them.”