August 02, 2023

Gallego Presses Homeland Security on Migrant Shelter Funding After Lackluster Response from FEMA

PHOENIX, AZ — Today, Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-03) sent a second letter to the administration regarding funding allocations for the Shelter and Services Program, the program that is meant to support Arizona’s border communities for shelter and other services related to non-citizens migrants released from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody.

In the letter, addressed to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayarkos, Rep. Gallego writes, “In June 2023 I wrote directly to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to express my disagreement with shifting funding away from border communities and towards interior states during the transition from the Emergency Food and Shelter Program-Humanitarian (EFSP-H) to SSP.

He continues, “As I stated in that letter, ‘this funding shift has resulted in a much larger share being allocated to non-border states, leaving cities, counties, and non-profits in Arizona short on the resources they need to both adequately respond to border crossings and continue to provide services to residents.’

“After continued conversations with entities in Arizona whose funding has been altered under the new allocation, it is clear Arizona’s communities face potentially dire funding cliffs.” 

Based on reporting from Arizona’s border communities, the current funding from FEMA will be depleted in just a few short months. Specifically,

  • $8,364,948 allocated to Pima County will be spent down in less than 2 months; 
  • $11,093,294 allocated to Yuma County will be spent down in less than 8 months; and
  • $4,282,153 allocated to all of Maricopa County will be spent down in only 2 to 4 months, depending on the services provided.

As the letter states, not only are the funding amounts inadequate, but the red tape on how Arizona’s border communities can spend their funds is arbitrary. For example, spending caps are on categories such as transportation and non-congregate shelter.

Rep. Gallego’s letter follows a letter he previously sent to FEMA urging the agency to reconsider its funding allocations for the Shelter Services Program (SSP) to support Arizona’s border communities better. 

Rep. Gallego concludes this most recent letter by reflecting on FEMA’s response to the first SSP letter he sent to the agency.

“In their response to my June letter to FEMA, the agency said they ‘are grateful for the frontline work being done in your community to offer comprehensive care and support to noncitizen migrants.’ I hope that gratefulness extends to supporting the frontline work being done by Arizonans at the border, who work every day to ensure migrants are not sleeping in the streets of our communities,” he writes.

Click here to read the full letter.

FEMA’s decision to allocate SSP funds away from Arizona’s border communities and instead toward non-border entities leaves the state’s cities, counties, and non-profits at risk, undermining their ability to respond to border crossings safely and effectively.

Rep. Gallego has continued to press FEMA for answers on how they will support Arizona’s border communities following the end of Title 42.

After communicating with Arizona border leaders, Rep. Gallego sent four letters to Biden administration officials and Congress requesting specific resources these communities need to reduce the burden lifting Title 42 will have on them and their residents.