Federal support is critical to assist with the growing municipal burden.
The City of McAllen was notified that U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) had included funding language on a border supplemental package, which includes $30 million available for reimbursements to local governments, states, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for migrant care through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
According to the press release issued by Sen. Cornyn’s office, he had sent a letter to key appropriators requesting this inclusion after hearing from many local Texas officials and non-profits that due to increased border crossings in recent months, local governments and NGOs have had to spend significant resources on services typically provided by the federal government.
“We applaud Sen. Cornyn’s efforts to help the City of McAllen with federal funding as we continue our response to the immigrant situation our community has been dealing with since 2014,” said McAllen Mayor Jim Darling. “We see our efforts as two-fold: one, as an extension of the work of the federal government, who is releasing asylum-seeking immigrants in our community with documents that allow them to enter the country. These immigrants would have nowhere to go and the numbers arriving daily make it unfeasible for them to simply wait at a downtown transit terminal for the next bus. Therefore, we continue to assist Catholic Charities and other non-profits who have stepped up to feed, cloth, shelter and care for the immigrants until they leave. Secondly, by assisting those organizations who are providing food and other basic essentials to the immigrants, it keeps them from wondering our city streets looking for those very same necessities.”
City leaders are hopeful that this legislation is approved quickly, by both the Senate and the House and signed by President Trump so that they can receive reimbursement quickly. Since January 2019, the City of McAllen has already spent just under $82,500 and the amount grows each day. While some expenses are for overtime of personnel costs from the 12 City departments participating in the response, many are hard costs for supplies and equipment, such as fuel, vehicles and traffic equipment being provided. Other hard costs are those related to the rental of other resources necessary to help the respite center provide services.
“The City of McAllen is responding because it is the right and humane thing to do, to visitors in our community, for their safety and ours,” said McAllen City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez, P.E. “We are appreciative of Sen. Cornyn and his efforts to assist his constituents who are responding. However, the toll it has taken on our community is beyond financial. We need help now and appreciate Sen. Cornyn’s efforts.”