November 01, 2023

Gallego, McCaul Push for Increased Funding for Immigration-Impacted First Responders in FY24 Supplemental

Historic 2.4 million crossings year to date puts strain on local police and fire departments, the members write

WASHINGTON, D.C.Reps. Ruben Gallego (AZ-03) and Michael McCaul (TX-10) today sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee leadership requesting that any Fiscal Year 2024 supplemental appropriations include funding for critical programs to aid first responders in communities impacted by immigration.

The members write: “Local police departments are barred from directly enforcing immigration laws. However, first responders, particularly local law enforcement, are fielding significantly more calls, including for organized criminal activity, loitering, trespassing, and emergency response. Even without violent criminal conduct, every call to a police department, fire department, or EOC increases the strain on resources and personnel that makes it harder for them to help taxpaying permanent residents.”

As the members note, the southwestern border has seen a dramatic increase in crossings in recent months. In September alone, the Department of Homeland Security recorded over 269,000 crossings, which brought the total for the year up to 2.4 million crossings—the highest number on record.

The members state that the “increased operations are stretching the resources of local governments, police, and fire departments to the limit. Without additional funding, many local leaders and decision-makers face a choice – provide only vital services to long-term residents and ignore certain emergency calls they determine to not be top priority or devote resources towards responding to a ballooning migrant population with no end in sight.”

The letter from Reps. Gallego and McCaul echo the concerns raised in an October 10 letter sent by the Arizona Sheriffs’ Association. The Sheriffs note that historic short comings by the federal government to assist local agencies means “the financial and human costs fall to the states – and specifically Arizona,” and that “by making a small investment, Arizona will at least make a dent while improving the safety of our local communities.”

Gallego and McCaul conclude the letter underscoring just how critical the dollars would be to southwestern border communities.

“This funding is critical to providing state and local agencies with the resources they need to hire more police officers, firefighters, and emergency responders, as much-needed equipment and overtime pay for first responders who are already on the frontlines of this crisis,” they write.

Rep. Gallego previously secured $2,263,885 in emergency funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to support Arizona’s border communities as they address an increase in migrant crossings.

Gallego also sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell earlier this year urging the Agency to fix a new documentation requirement that strains border communities and non-profits in Arizona, putting their funding at risk. It was his third letter regarding issues with the Shelter and Services Program (SSP).

In June, he sent a first letter to FEMA arguing that border states like Arizona need more funding to address border crossings and provide services. He called the FEMA funding model “misguided.”

After a lackluster response from FEMA, he sent a second letter to Sec. Mayorkas directly, expressing his disagreement with the funding model.

Following the end of Title 42 and communications with Arizona border leaders, Gallego sent four letters to Biden Administration officials and Congress requesting specific resources these communities need to reduce the burden on them and their residents.