Immigration politics reduced humanitarian funding for migrants

The immigration policy debate is clouding the prospect of new funding for the nonprofits and local agencies the federal government relies on to feed and shelter migrants.

Aid workers and border communities, supported by the White House and some lawmakers, urged Congress to use a stopgap budget bill to shore up the account that reimburses local agencies and organizations that care for border-crossers, issued by the Department of Homeland Security. are inspired.

Funds are “critical to this new reality that we have at the border, which is that people are coming in, they need to be released, they need short-term aid that isn’t in custody,” said Yale Schachter, director of the Americas. Said and Europe for Refugee International.

The funding, provided through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, is one of several potential add-ons lawmakers are making to a deal to keep the government running as fiscal year 2023 begins next month. Democrats are pushing for a humanitarian account, while Republicans appear divided. The text of the continuing resolution is likely to be released next week.

Migrant care has drawn close attention in recent weeks and months as the governors of Florida and Texas send some people to Washington, D.C., New York, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., and other liberal-leaning areas, which have seen a sudden influx of humanitarians. was not planned. needed. Communities, as well as those along the southern border, are eligible for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program grant.

Cities facing migrant flow costs could win federal aid

Kevin Dietch/Getty Images

Migrants from Central and South America wait after being left near the Washington residence of Vice President Kamala Harris on September 15, 2022. Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent buses carrying them from the southern border to the Harris home.

“If you don’t enter this discrepancy, you will have nonprofit providers close or shut down part of their services at the border and in cities across the country,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Con.) said Tuesday, referring to the budget mechanism, which would add funding. Murphy leads DHS appropriations in the Senate.

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At least one top Republican, Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) has given support to strengthen the program. Others have scoffed at the request, saying the scramble for resources is a product of border security policies that they consider too lax.

The Biden administration should be looking for ways to stop the migration “instead of asking for more money for more people to come,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), the top Republican overseeing DHS’s budget, said Tuesday. “So yeah, I have a problem with that.”

US officials have recorded more than 2 million migrant encounters at the US-Mexico border this fiscal year, a new high.

‘It’s our job’

Non-government groups providing aid to migrants say they are caught in the midst of a political showdown that is different from reality.

Brian Corbyn, executive vice president of Catholic Charities USA, said of the migrants, “They are hungry and they need shelter and they are here right now.” “It is our job as NGOs to meet human needs.”

The Emergency Food and Shelter Program, administered by DHS’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, has existed for decades to help communities provide care for people experiencing homelessness.

Congress passed legislation in 2019 (Public Laws 116-26), signed by then-President Donald Trump, to add a $30 million account for humanitarian aid issued by DHS for migrants legally living in the US. , while their immigration cases are pending. The humanitarian arm of the program has received funding through other legislation, including $150 million in the Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations Act.

There was about $85 million remaining in the account as of July, but mounting requests from cities dealing with unexpected migrant arrivals threatened to cut funding, a group of House Democrats warned in a September 9 letter. He urged investors to add $50 million to the program in the stopgap funding bill.

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Cornyn said he generally favors providing more funding for humanitarian aid for migrants, although he said he is not involved in current talks on the proposal.

“The federal government cannot deal with this crisis without the help of NGOs,” he said. “They didn’t cause problems, and they’re trying to help.”

But funneling money to border needs is frustrating for many Republicans, who instead want President Joe Biden to revert to many of his predecessor’s immigration policies: continuing to build the border wall, allowing asylum seekers into Mexico. Forced to wait while their claims are reviewed. , and more aggressively enforcing pandemic-related restrictions.

Border floats on supplementary immigration as Democrats fracture

“It’s not the answer to our immigration problem, it’s just not more money,” Rob Portman (Ohio), the top Republican on the Senate panel that oversees DHS, said of the emergency funding push.

For many border communities and aid groups, Congress is the problem. Lawmakers have repeatedly failed to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul, said Monica Weisberg-Stewart, president of immigration and border security for the Texas Border Coalition, a network of local governments and business leaders, making the situation at the border more vulnerable. has become more challenging.

“What do they recommend to do with the persons sitting at the doors of these cities and counties?” he said. “It’s inhumane to not offer needed help.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmour in Washington [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Robin Mezzoli Feather [email protected], Sarah Babbage Feather [email protected]

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