Denver, Featured, Governor Polis, Immigration, Original Report, Sherrie Peif

Gov. Polis authorizes paid time off for state workers to ‘volunteer’ at migrant shelters

DENVER — Colorado state employees are getting up to four days of paid administrative leave if they are willing to work at emergency shelters set up by the City and County of Denver to accommodate the thousands of illegal migrants flowing into Colorado.

The decision to pay Colorado workers to take time off their usual duties and shift to the warming shelters appears to be made solely by Gov. Jared Polis.

On Dec. 21, Polis emailed all state employees to ask them to “volunteer” and included a Signup Genius link to do so. He initially offered up to 16 hours of administrative leave to employees who “volunteered” through Dec. 23.

“As state employees and dedicated public servants, I encourage you to volunteer to help support over the day and weeks ahead cold weather sheltering and migrant operations by signing up to volunteer at the shelters in Denver, (sic),” Polis wrote.

Several state employees forwarded the information to Complete Colorado, and some of those also confirmed the leave was paid.

As of Jan. 2, Denver officials report more than 3,000 migrants seeking asylum have arrived in Colorado since Dec. 9., with most originating from Central and South America. Officials do not believe they have been bused in by authorities in either Texas or Florida, as has happened in other states.

Then on Dec. 30, Polis emailed all state employees again to thank those who had already “volunteered” and to extend his initial offer to encompass up to 32 hours of paid time off for “volunteering” through Jan. 20, 2023.

It is unclear how many employees have taken advantage of the paid offer, but Polis’ second email indicated it’s in the dozens.

“I want to extend my gratitude to the dozens of State employees who offered their time and energy to assist fellow Coloradans at emergency and migrant shelters last week,” Polis said. “These acts of kindness provide critical support to those in need and show the strength of our great state. You are encouraged to volunteer over the days and weeks ahead at ongoing migrant operations by signing up to volunteer at the shelters in Denver.”

To date, Denver officials estimate it has cost the city and county nearly $1.2 million to provide services to the migrants. They estimate it could exceed $3 million over the next couple of months. That cost does not include any money Polis has authorized to pay state employees to work in the shelters.

“Our resources to respond to this crisis are completely at capacity and we continue to call on the federal government to assist,” a webpage set up by Denver says. Denver continues to manage a reception center, two congregate emergency shelters, and a civic building overflow shelter for migrants and asylum-seekers arriving in the city.”

Complete Colorado will continue to follow the story.


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