Denver's surge in migrant squeegee workers presents new safety concerns
An uptick in migrants crowding busy Denver intersections in an attempt to wash car windshields for money is pushing police to take action.
Why it matters: The surge in squeegee workers underscores migrants' desperation to find jobs amid major work authorization hurdles.
- Swarming city streets also puts them at risk of being injured in traffic or charged with a crime.
Meanwhile, many drivers are feeling unsafe with some migrants refusing to take "no" for an answer.
State of play: Denver police tell us they are cracking down on the practice through "voluntary compliance by educating individuals … about the dangers of being in the roadway, as well as potential charges they could face."
- Violations could include soliciting from the roadway, aggressive panhandling, and impeding public streets and sidewalks, according to DPD.
- The first two charges could lead to 60 days in jail, while the latter could result in a jail sentence of 300 days and a $999 fine, a spokesperson from the City Attorney's Office tells us.
Of note: At least one Venezuelan migrant — Jose Angel, who's been in Denver for about three months — told us he's already been cited by police and given a court date, though he wasn't clear what exactly his charges were.
What they're saying: "We're not doing anything bad — we're just working," Angel told us in Spanish while standing next to cars near Santa Fe Drive and Alameda Avenue.
- Angel and other migrant workers — who typically start their shifts in the morning and stay until 4pm — said they make between $60 to $80 a day wiping windshields, and aren't concerned about their own safety.
- Drivers tend to give between $1 to $5 each, Angel said, though he's seen some migrants get larger bills for their service — but it's a crapshoot.
The big picture: With nearly 4,000 migrants in shelters as of Wednesday morning — and hundreds of families on the brink of being discharged from city shelters on Monday — Denver is in the midst of a "humanitarian crisis" and a "fiscal crisis," Mayor Mike Johnston said Wednesday during an interview on "Fox & Friends."
- "We need federal dollars, but the most important thing is … work authorization for folks when they arrive," Johnston said.
Reality check: Immigration reform at the federal level is all but dead, Axios' Stef Kight reports.
- As U.S. senators scramble to keep a bipartisan border deal alive, House Speaker Mike Johnson has warned it would be "dead on arrival" in the House.
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