Sunday Spotlight: Arizona Lawmakers asking Biden Administration about controversial money move

Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 11:19 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Arizona lawmakers say money meant to address the migrant issue on our southern border is going out-of-state. Now, Arizona Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema are asking questions. Arizona Representative Ruben Gallego is as well. He has sent two letters to different members of the administration, including Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

In one letter, he says, “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 the border crossing and continue to provide services to residents.”

“I’m already seeing an impact,” said Representative Gallego. “We shouldn’t be robbing peter to pay paul,” he adds.

Teresa Cavendish, CEO of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, says it could lead to issues if Casa Alitas, the migrant shelter in Tucson, fills up.

In a statement, Cavendish says, “The new funding path for the border shelters is through FEMA SSP. The first tranche of funding directed close to 45% of the funding away from the border area, and towards interior cities such as New York, Chicago, and Denver. While those areas may need Federal assistance to support the migrants making their new homes in their cities, the FEMA SSP funds were purported to be designated to decompress the border and its communities, through funding awarded to the NGOs and local governments who provide that work. Instead, the resulting funding redirection will result in greatly decreased capacity for the border NGOs, which in turn will result in shelters not being able to receive all of the people being processed and released by DHS agencies. Casa Alitas, as part of the Tucson Sector of Border Patrol, is one of the busiest shelters along the southern border. We currently receive 400 – 850 people per day, and rely almost entirely on the FEMA funding distributed to us to offer hospitality and humanitarian aid to the migrants and asylum seekers we receive. Without an adequate level of funding to accept everyone coming to us through DHS, our local communities will likely experience street releases when shelter space are not available and ICE/Border Patrol must process and release the people in their custody.”