McALLEN — Applications have become available for governments and nonprofit organizations to apply for federal reimbursements for specific migrant care costs that those entities incurred between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year.
Eligible applicants should likely include cities like McAllen and non-government organizations like Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, which have for years spent millions of dollars on migrant aid once the federal authorities release asylum-seeking migrants at the downtown McAllen bus station, a practice that began in 2014. While city coffers have only received a sliver of federal reimbursement — $141,000 since 2014 — the city is preparing to send in an application by next week.
“I just talked to the staff this morning about it,” McAllen City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez said Friday, adding that the city will likely seek around $160,000 in reimbursements.
To qualify for the reimbursements, members of Congress who represent parts of the Texas-Mexico border have been advising potentially eligible entities on how to proceed, outlining criteria, qualifications and other asks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program — the federal agency that was provided with $30 million for humanitarian aid through a bill package passed by Congress.
“There’s no question border states like Texas have borne the brunt of our current immigration crisis, and it only makes sense to target federal resources where they’re needed most,” U.S. Sen. Cornyn, R-TX, said in a statement on Friday. “Texans have gone above and beyond in assisting migrants in need of food and shelter, and it’s high time the federal government repays the Texas communities that have diverted their local taxpayer funds to address this crisis at the expense of their usual operations.”
“It is critical that all local governments and organizations be reimbursed for providing humanitarian aid to unaccompanied children and families at our southern border,” U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, also said in a statement. “This announcement demonstrates FEMA is taking the necessary steps to distribute the $30 million I secured in the Fiscal Year 2019 Emergency Border Supplemental Appropriations Bill. I will continue to monitor the distribution of these funds to ensure that all proper entities are reimbursed for providing food and shelter to the migrants in need.”
While the application process gets underway, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley will continue to temporarily care for migrants dropped off by federal authorities in downtown McAllen.
The newest Catholic Charities building for migrants is near the bus station, and the facility has continued to receive hundreds of migrants each day. And while the city’s involvement in the migrant care operations has dwindled since Catholic Charities moved its operations downtown, city officials said they will continue to seek reimbursements.
“We’re going to do it as soon as possible,” Rodriguez said.