Denver Considers Allowing Non-Citizens To Be Cops, Firefighters

The proposal would require a ballot initiative.
DENVER, CO - MAY 29: Police officers watch over a crowd of people near the Colorado state capitol during a protest on May 29, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. This was the second day of protests in Denver, with more demonstrations planned for the weekend. Demonstrations are being held across the US after George Floyd died in police custody on May 25th in Minneapolis, Minnesota.(Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Denver is considering allowing non-citizens to become police officers and firefighters, a move that would allow migrants with work authorization to work those public safety jobs.

On Monday, City Council President Jamie Torres and Councilmember Amanda Sandoval proposed getting rid of language in the city charter that bars the city from hiring non-citizens as police and firefighters.

The proposal could be formally introduced in a bill as soon as April, but changing the city’s charter would also require a ballot initiative in November.

Both the fire chief and police chief have submitted letters in favor of the idea.

The Denver Sheriff’s Department is already able to hire non-citizens thanks to a 2016 federal settlement that found the department discriminated against migrants who had work authorizations.

Like several other major U.S. cities, Denver has received an influx of illegal migrants recently. Colorado’s capital is struggling to metabolize the more than 40,000 illegal migrants who have arrived in recent months.

The city is in the process of evicting about 800 migrant families from overcrowded shelters.

“We have filled every single hotel room that we have available in the city and county of Denver,” Mayor Mike Johnston, a Democrat, said earlier this month, adding that the city is “very close” to a breaking point.

To pay for the migrant crisis, the city is slashing funding from every part of the budget, from the police to the health department to the animal shelter.

The mayor has asked to cut nearly $1 million from the elections department in an election year.

Johnston said the city would likely need $100 million over the course of this year to pay for migrant costs such as housing, school, and health care.


“This influx of migrants is straining capacity, and based on current projections, could force the city to cut as much as $180 million from its annual budget,” city officials said in a press release.

Denver has only 710,000 residents, meaning the new migrants have increased the city’s population by more than 5%. The new arrivals now make up a more significant segment of the city’s population than in larger cities that have seen a recent migrant influx, such as New York City or Chicago.

Meanwhile, more encampments are cropping up in Denver, which already has a significant homeless problem — the homeless population spiked more than 30% last year.

Many of the Democratic leaders in cities that have experienced a migrant influx have pushed for work authorizations for migrants so they can stop being in the government’s care.

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