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Denver has spent more than $33M to support immigrants in the last year, more aid needed

Denver has spent more than $33M to support immigrants in the last year
Denver has spent more than $33M to support immigrants in the last year 03:07

The City of Denver has spent more than $33 million in the last year supporting an influx of migrants, many of whom are coming from Venezuela. The migrants have largely been sent by bus to Denver from border states like Texas.

While Denver was promised several million dollars in financial aid from the federal government, the city has seen less than $1 million of that.

"It has taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears from the Denver staff," said Jon Ewing, a city spokesman. 

Nearly every day for one year, busses of people have been dropped off in the heart of downtown Denver, many times in the middle of the night without immediate access to a shelter.

"That would have been true yesterday, the day before and the day before that. We receive busses all the time," Ewing said.

By the end of the week, Denver is estimated to have received more than 30,000 immigrants in one year. The city says they are currently housing more than 2,700, with that number only expected to increase in the coming months. 

"We refer to this as an emergency response," Ewing says.

While the city asks for further financial funding from the federal government, they have made calls to Texas requesting they stop doing overnight drop-offs without notice or access to shelters.

"Can you please stop dropping people off in the middle of the city?" Ewing said.

Kennedy and Marialbert, a couple from Venezuela, told CBS News Colorado they crossed more than seven countries on their journey to the United States.

Marialbert is more than seven months pregnant and recalled running at times.

"I went through the jungle, I went through all those countries, we went through all that. The train took us eight days on the train. Very tough." Marialbert said in Spanish. "We did have to run when we got to immigration because starting over again is very hard. So, before immigration catches me, I prefer to run."

The couple already has a son who made the journey with them. They said they are looking for a good home in the United States and that Colorado is appealing. 

"(We are seeking) a better future for my children," Kennedy said. "I like it. Good people here, a lot of good people here in Denver."

That generosity was on display when the City of Denver asked the public to buy Christmas gifts for immigrant children. More than 650 gifts were purchased off of the Amazon list alone in 24 hours. 

The city is also hosting a job fair for part-time workers soon, many of whom can make more than $30 an hour to help staff the shelters serving the immigrants.

Kennedy said he was grateful for the generosity from the community, but noted he was not looking for handouts.

"I'm hoping for work, a job, so I can buy (presents) for (my son)," Kennedy said in Spanish. 

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