Press Release

Congressman Cuellar Provides Update on the $30 Million for Humanitarian Reimbursements to Local Governments and Non-Governmental Organizations in Laredo

Funding will provide reimbursements for expenses related to humanitarian relief of unaccompanied children and family units at the southern border

Washington | Charlotte Laracy, DC Press Secretary (202-226-1583); Leslie Martinez, District Press Secretary (956-286-6007), July 22, 2019

Congressman Cuellar Provides Update on the $30 Million for Humanitarian Reimbursements to Local Governments and Non-Governmental Organizations in Laredo 

Funding will provide reimbursements for expenses related to humanitarian relief of unaccompanied children and family units at the southern border

LAREDO, TX – Today, Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) provided an update on the $30 million he helped secure in conjunction with U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) for humanitarian reimbursements to local governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Texas, including Laredo. This funding will reimburse organizations that have incurred massive costs for providing humanitarian relief for children and families seeking asylum at the border. Congressman Cuellar and Senator Cornyn helped secure this funding in the FY19 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill that was signed into law earlier this summer.

“Since 2014, when the surge in migrants began, our community has come together and provided millions of dollars for food, water, and shelter to the hundreds of migrants at our southern border. However, the costs for providing humanitarian assistance can be crushing for organizations such as Catholic Charities of Laredo and the Holding Institute,” said Congressman Cuellar. “I have helped secure the urgently-needed funding for Texas communities. Local government and organizations are on the front-lines of this humanitarian crisis. That’s why I’ve worked hard to secure the $30 million in the FY 2019 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill to ensure that our local communities receive the reimbursements they deserve.”

He continued, “I thank these organizations for their dedicated assistance and service at our southern border. I will continue to work to allocate more funding and resources to our local organizations, so they are able to continue to assist the migrant children and families at the border.”

“The federal government must take financial responsibility for migrant care,” said Sen. Cornyn.  “Texas communities have gone above and beyond, expending resources to provide shelter and food for migrants in need.  With federal reimbursement money Rep. Cuellar and I fought to include in this bill, Texas cities and non-profits will be able to return their focus to serving the community the way they know best.”

Sen. Cornyn urged Senate appropriators to include these funds in the bill after hearing from many local Texas officials and non-profits that had spent significant resources on migrant care due to increased border crossings in recent months.

Influx of Migrants in the Southern Border

Due to the unprecedented levels of migration and the high volume of migrants being released from federal custody at the U.S.-Mexico border, non-profits and local communities in Laredo are shouldering the financial burdens of providing humanitarian relief to these families and unaccompanied children. These expenses incurred by border communities include food, water, hygiene products, medicine, medical supplies, temporary housing, and transportation.

In the summer of 2014, the United States faced a similar influx of migrant from Central America to the Rio Grande Valley. In response to this humanitarian crisis, Congressman Cuellar helped secure language in the FY15–FY18 Department of Homeland Security funding bills to allow border states to use Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) State Homeland Security Program funds to reimburse local governments and non-profits. Although the State of Texas received $100 million in FEMA State Homeland Security Program funds, only $400,000 were actually reimbursed due to the disbursement process to non-profits and local communities that took on the burden of caring for these children and adults.

Emergency Food and Shelter Program

These funds will be given directly to the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) National Board under (FEMA). The National Board is chaired by a FEMA representative and is comprised of other representatives from: American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, The Jewish Federations of North America, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, The Salvation Army, and United Way Worldwide.

As of now, the allocation of these funds will reach affected communities through the Emergency Food and Shelter Programs’ local level committees. The local committees are comprised of non-profit representatives (the same non-profits as the national board) with a single representative from the local government. Local committees will be collecting application from entities seeking to be reimbursed, they will then send these applications to the National Review for approval. This program will directly reimburse local governments and NGOs for expenses related to their care for unaccompanied children and immigrant adults accompanied by a minor at the border.

City of Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz said, “The City of Laredo, along with non-profit and religious organizations, have spent many hours and tremendous amounts of resources in providing humanitarian aid to migrants in our community. We welcome this great news and thank Congressman Cuellar for his leadership in securing these reimbursement funds from the federal government.”

“We are very appreciative of the congressman’s efforts to help us alleviate the influx of migrants on our border,” said Benjamin De La Garza, Director of Catholic Charities of Laredo. “These funds will allow us to continue servicing the community in many ways. We were putting a lot of resources onto these projects; the reimbursement will help us get back on our feet and continue providing care to those who need it the most.”