September 15, 2022

Durbin, Padilla Request Additional Humanitarian Assistance Funding for Communities & Organizations Aiding Migrant Families

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety, led eight of their Senate colleagues in a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee leadership urging them to provide additional humanitarian assistance funding for FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) in the upcoming government funding stop-gap bill.

As Republican governors continue to engage in political stunts with the lives of asylum seekers arriving at the border, EFSP funds will ensure that NGOs and communities are able to provide adequate support services such as food, shelter, transportation, and access to basic health care. Without additional EFSP funding, NGOs and communities that have been providing critical services for years may be forced to scale back or cease their operations.

“As you consider the FY 2023 Continuing Resolution, we urge you to include the White House’s anomaly request for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP). Additionally, we request that you consider providing additional funding for this account based on the increased needs of the grantees providing humanitarian assistance and critical services for asylum seekers,” wrote the Senators. “Congress has an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to protecting migrants and the right to seek refuge by extending funding for EFSP. Furthermore, Congress must ensure that communities have the tools necessary to treat migrants fairly and humanely as they flee violence and instability.”

Last week, Durbin visited the Salvation Army Freedom Center in the Humboldt Park neighborhood in Chicago to meet with migrant families who were forced to come to Chicago from Texas by Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX).  During his visit, Durbin met a man named Carlos, who came to the United States with his wife and two young daughters from Venezuela.  The family traveled through Central America and Mexico to reach the Texas-Mexico border by foot.  The journey took four months, and they were faced with violence, theft, and exploitation.  Durbin also met another man, William, who fled Venezuela, looking for a better life in America.  Durbin shared his experience in a speech on the Senate floor earlier this week. 

In addition to Durbin and Padilla, the letter is also signed by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

September 15, 2022

Dear Chairman Leahy, Vice Chairman Shelby, Chairman Murphy, and Ranking Member Capito:

As you consider the FY 2023 Continuing Resolution, we urge you to include the White House’s anomaly request for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP). Additionally, we request that you consider providing additional funding for this account based on the increased needs of the grantees providing humanitarian assistance and critical services for asylum seekers.

EFSP, through supplemental funding, provides reimbursements to local nonprofit and governmental social service organizations, as well as states and localities, for providing shelter, food, transportation, and support services to asylum seekers arriving at our southern border. These funds are needed to ensure that shelters do not face financial difficulties or are not forced to stop their operations, placing the burden on our local communities.

Funds appropriated through FY 22 are quickly being drawn down and in the absence of full-year funding, grantees of the program are currently grappling with how to continue to provide critical services to this vulnerable population. Communities and organizations are on the front-lines of assisting migrants coming to our border and resources are being stretched thin as they take on the role of performing a federal government function. This funding is vitally important as more cities in the United States receive refugees and asylum seekers. 

Congress has an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to protecting migrants and the right to seek refuge by extending funding for EFSP. Furthermore, Congress must ensure that communities have the tools necessary to treat migrants fairly and humanely as they flee violence and instability.

Thank you for your consideration of this request, and we look forward to working with you to reaffirm this commitment. 

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