SAN ANTONIO – A $60 million proposal to reimburse nonprofits, border communities and the city of San Antonio for providing humanitarian aid to asylum seekers has turned into a $30 million compromise that awaits the president's signature.
In announcing the outcome, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-District 28, said, "Even though I advocated for $60 million ... I am pleased we are able to provide these deserved reimbursements that will ensure proper entities are compensated and incentivized to continue their critical humanitarian work."
Antonio Fernandez, president and CEO of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of San Antonio, said, "I’ll take anything. I’ll take a single dollar, so don’t get me wrong. Is it going to be enough? I don’t know."
If President Donald Trump signs the bill, Fernandez said he is grateful that the funds would be retroactive to the first of the year.
Since then, Fernandez estimates Catholic Charities has spent about $400,000, which includes $300,000 in travel expenses to help the asylum seekers get wherever they are going in the United States.
The city of San Antonio has spent nearly $200,000 after opening a migrant resource center in late March, serving an estimated 18,000 arrivals from the border.
"We are pleased to see Congress pass the supplemental appropriations bills for humanitarian assistance and we are hopeful that the President will sign the bill," Melody Woosley, director of the city’s Department of Human Services, said in a statement.
"The city of San Antonio and our coalition of non-profits have worked jointly to assist migrants traveling through our community, a job usually done by the Federal government," Woosley said.
Cuellar released the following the statement after the House passed the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill:
$4.6 billion to help children at the southern border
"As a border representative, my top priority is to provide the necessary funding and resources to help the children, families, and communities that are suffering at the southern border. Inaction is simply not an option. This bipartisan emergency supplemental includes more than $1 billion to shelter and feed migrants detained by the Border Patrol and almost $3 billion to care for unaccompanied migrant children who are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services. This bill also includes language that reaffirms standards of care for migrants in DHS and HHS custody. I have long advocated for enhanced oversight and have secured language through appropriations that improves detention facility conditions, standards, inspections, and healthcare services. It is our duty to help these migrants—this should not be a partisan issue."
$30 million for humanitarian reimbursements to local communities
"This bill also provides $30 million for direct reimbursements for local governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California who have incurred massive costs for providing humanitarian relief to the many migrants seeking asylum at the border. Even though I advocated for $60 million in the first House version of the Emergency Supplemental, I am pleased we are able to provide these deserved reimbursements that will ensure that the proper entities are compensated and incentivized to continue their critical humanitarian work. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House as well as Senate Leadership to increase the amount of reimbursement aid in the FY20 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill."