U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar announced on Friday that applications have opened for governments and non-government organizations to apply for federal reimbursements for migration aid costs incurred during the first six months of this year.
The online reimbursement application — conducted through the United Way — will be open until Sept. 6. After that date, no applications will be taken. Local and national boards are expected to determine the legitimacy of the applications from governments like the city of McAllen and NGOs such as Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.
Those entities, and others in the four border states, will seek reimbursements from a pool of $25 million, which was part of a congressional spending package passed this summer. Once the applications are received, the boards have to make their determinations swiftly, Cuellar, D-Laredo, said during a conference call this week.
“The money has to roll out as soon as possible,” Cuellar said on the call.
The city of McAllen plans to apply for about $160,000 in reimbursements that the city incurred between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year. Other cities, such as Laredo and San Antonio, also plan to apply for reimbursements, and officials from those cities, as well as McAllen, have been in touch with Cuellar’s office about the criteria for reimbursements.
The primary expenditures that are expected to be approved by the board include costs related to food and shelter. Once reimbursement funds are distributed for these primary expenditures, then the entities can apply for more funding through the so-called secondary expenditures incurred.
While McAllen is likely to get reimbursed if its application meets the requirements, the city has spent significantly more money than $160,000 since 2014 on aiding asylum-seeking migrants who have been dropped off nearly every day in downtown McAllen by federal authorities. But this reimbursement package only accounts for costs racked up during the first six months of 2019.
“Local governments and organizations have been on the front lines providing critical humanitarian services to migrant children and families at our southern border,” Cuellar said in a statement on Friday.
Cuellar has said he and other members of Congress hope to secure more reimbursement funds during future Congressional appropriating.
“As the Vice Chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue to monitor the allocation of reimbursements to ensure that our communities are no longer unduly burdened by the cost of administering humanitarian aid at the southern border,” Cuellar said.