McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Starting Monday, nonprofit organizations and municipalities that provided humanitarian assistance to migrants and unaccompanied children in 2019 may apply for federal reimbursement funds.
This will be the second round of fund disbursements under the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. Congress appropriated $30 million to give back to organizations that supplied food, shelter and transportation to migrants last year. The money was part of the FY19 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill to reimburse local governments and organizations that provided relief to families and unaccompanied children who crossed the border.
Almost $8 million has already been doled out, but there is still over $21 million to qualifying organizations, said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Texas who is vice chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.
In October, Cuellar announced that $7.8 million was being awarded to selected nonprofits from throughout the United States that had applied.
But there were some organizations notably missing in the distribution of funds, especially some organizations from South Texas that have spent hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars helping migrants. The City of McAllen, for instance, did not receive any funds in the first round.
A little over $600,000 went to Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, which has operated a humanitarian respite center that has helped over 150,000 migrants since 2014 in McAllen; $108,000 went to the Salvation Army Corp Center in McAllen; and $2,600 to the United Way of South Texas. The City of Brownsville received $197,309, while Cameron County nonprofits, including those in the Brownsville area, received $428,764. Nonprofits in Laredo got $304,700 in reimbursement funds.
Distributions were also given to dozens of nonprofits and municipalities elsewhere, including nearly $200,000 to the City of El Paso; nearly $140,000 to the El Paso Salvation Army; $300,000 to the City of Las Cruces in New Mexico; $864,000 to the City of Portland Family Shelter in Maine; as well as various organizations in San Antonio, Arizona, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio.
In a joint phone call with media on Tuesday afternoon, Cuellar and U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-New Mexico, acknowledged that not all of the deserving organizations received funds during the first round. And they want to make sure that all who qualify submit their applications before the March 16 deadline.
“This was one of the most inspirational things I’ve been able to do in Congress. To see the individual nonprofits stand up and do this work without any guarantee of reimbursement,” Torres Small said. “But as we saw in the first round, there were some real gaps and being able to facilitate some of those conversations is necessary.”
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