Watch CBS News

Denver Asylum Seeker program to provide pathway to stability, job opportunities for migrant families

Denver's new Asylum Seeker Program could assist migrants with getting jobs
Denver's new Asylum Seeker Program could assist migrants with getting jobs 03:35

It's at the migrant shelter at the Quality Inn on Zuni Street in Denver where Mariciello Ruiz Pastor, her husband and two baby boys have been calling home for the last two weeks.

"We were worried more than anything," said Pastor in Spanish.


 This is the second time they have returned to the city of Denver after having to relocate to New York for an immigration hearing they couldn't move to a closer location.

"We were worried because we only had until (April) 25 here and we didn't have a place nor knew anywhere to go," she said.

It is a worry that has since changed in the hours since Mayor Mike Johnston announced a new Asylum Seeker Program, which will directly benefit migrants like Pastor as they transition out of the shelter.

"That's a big help," said Pastor. "Sincerely, it's great news for us because basically they want to help us get asylum. They want to help us get our work permit."

As one of the nearly 1,000 migrants who will benefit from the launch of the program, people like Pastor and her family would receive rental assistance and food for six months. At the same time, they will receive help on their application for asylum, with the end goal of becoming eligible for work authorization after those six months.

"Our job is through that six month period is to be able to find the right opportunities to make individuals as successful and as ready as possible to be able to enter the workforce," said Adeeb Khan, Denver's executive director of Economic Development & Opportunity.

Khan says migrants in the program will be provided training opportunities and certifications for areas in which they hope to work once they receive their work authorization.

"And then coupled with that, we're hoping to offer opportunities which are akin to unpaid internships; onsite experience with employers to kind of understand and learn some of the nuance of what it means to be successful in those situations," he said.

The plan is to set up migrants for success in their future employment, while also introducing businesses that partner up with this program to migrants who are ready to work.

"As soon as the work authorization kicks in, we've had individuals who've been trained, they've been certified, they've had opportunities to connect with employers," said Khan. "And then an opportunity to potentially enter the workforce when authorization kicks in."

For people like Pastor's husband, who have struggled to find work without a permit, she says a program like this could boost the outcome of their future.

"My partner, if he finds work, it's just for one day and only by the hour," she said. "It's impossible with no documents or papers."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.