Lindsey Toomer

(Colorado Newsline) Every Democratic member of Colorado’s delegation to Congress signed a letter asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support migrants who have arrived in Colorado at a growing rate over the last several months.

The group of Democrats asked FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell to increase funding available through FEMA’s Shelter and Services Program for 2024 and broaden eligibility for this funding so additional cities and nonprofits can access the money. The letter also asked for technical help in setting up programs to support the needs of communities that are assisting migrants, particularly in rural parts of the state.

Those signing onto the letter include U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, as well as U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette of Denver, Joe Neguse of Lafayette, Jason Crow of Centennial, Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood and Yadira Caraveo of Thornton.

“Once they arrive, migrants turn to local communities and nonprofits in search of refuge and assistance. However, the capacity of these organizations to provide adequate support is stretched thin,” the letter says. “Nonprofits across Colorado, as well as state and local leaders, are concerned and seeking financial assistance and resources to meet the growing needs of these individuals.”

The letter highlights the financial strain the influx of migrants has placed on local governments, particularly Denver, and others including Aurora and Carbondale. Buses of migrants are arriving in Colorado daily, with Denver alone having helped over 32,000 people when the letter was sent on Dec. 22. As of Jan. 2, that number has grown closer to 36,000.

“This influx has dramatically increased the number of individuals in shelters, which now exceeds 3,100, including approximately 1,200 children,” the letter says. “The city has expended more than $33 million in response to this humanitarian crisis and they expect that number to increase exponentially over the next year without additional support.”

The lawmakers noted that Colorado’s experience helping migrants is part of a “broader national challenge,” making it even more important that FEMA respond proactively to ensure communities in need are able to access any newly appropriated funding.

“Your prompt attention to this matter is not just a response to a pressing need; it is essential to ensuring thousands of new arrivals facing harsh and unpredictable conditions have shelter and support throughout winter,” the letter says.

More From Missoula Current