Migrant Crisis Forces Denver to Cut DMV, Parks Department Services and Divert Millions to Asylum-Seekers

Some employees ‘may not receive any hours,’ the city’s parks department says as it is forced to cut millions from its budget to fund the migrant crisis.

AP/Thomas Peipert
Migrants rest at a makeshift shelter at Denver. AP/Thomas Peipert

Denver appears likely to cut some city employees’ hours to zero, but is refusing to say it is laying off workers as millions of dollars are diverted to the city’s spiraling migrant crisis. 

Denver has been struggling under the weight of the arrival of nearly 40,000 migrants. Since last May alone, Texas says it has sent more than 15,000 to Colorado’s capital city. Denver has spent upwards of $42 million on migrants as the crisis swallows up increasing amounts of the city’s budget, the New York Times reported, and the city has been pleading with the federal government for assistance. 

As the city unveils budget cuts, however, it appears to be avoiding using the term “layoffs,” 9News reported on Monday. 

In a statement to the outlet, the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation acknowledged many on-call city employees, such as front desk workers and lifeguards, could have hours reduced entirely. 

“The reduction in hours of operation and programs will affect the number of hours worked by many on-call, some to the point where they may not receive any hours,” the agency’s director, Jolon Clark said. “The final decisions on hours for any individual position have not been made yet.”

The $4.3 million in cuts to the parks department is aimed at helping the city pay for the migrant crisis, 9News reported. The city’s mayor, Mike Johnston, said that all of the city’s departments will “have to find a way to prioritize.” 

The budget cuts so far have affected parks department and the Department of Motor Vehicles, as employee hours have been cut or reduced. Yet Mr. Johnston insists “these direct impacts on DMV do not involve layoffs, nor do Parks and Rec involve layoffs of our current employees.” 

Employees whose hours have been cut or reduced entirely are eligible for unemployment benefits, 9News notes, just as a laid off employee would be eligible.

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