Democratic, Independent senators: Biden ‘shortchanged border communities’ in favor of New York

(The Center Square) – United States Senators from states that border Mexico have issued a statement criticizing President Joe Biden’s administration this week for its handling of immigration and the border.

U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema, I-Arizona, Mark Kelly, D-Arizona, Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, Alex Padilla, D-California, Ben Ray Luján, D-California, and Diane Feinstein, D-California, said in their statement that the administration is not providing adequate funding to Southwest Border communities through the Shelter and Services Program, which was, “specifically authorized by Congress to assist border communities that are directly affected by the border crisis,” according to a press release from Heinrich’s office.

The Senators say the administration is ignoring “the will of Congress” by providing coastal cities, like New York, more than $100 million to deal with migrants, according to the release.

“Border communities across our states are on the front lines of the border crisis, and we worked hard to secure critical resources to help them increase shelter capacity, emergency services, and transportation to alleviate the strain they face every day,” the senators wrote in their letter. “The Biden Administration shortchanged border communities when they need support the most. Instead of prioritizing Shelter and Services Program funding to border communities as primarily intended by Congress, they’ve awarded New York City over $100 million without transparency or oversight of how funding levels were determined. This failure puts the future of this program at risk and hurts our communities’ abilities to secure the border, keep communities safe, and ensure the fair and humane treatment of migrants.”

The lawmakers who wrote the letter helped secure $800 million for the Shelter and Services Program in hopes that it would support the border amid the ongoing crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Joint Committee Report for FY23 Appropriations says, “The agreement provides $800,000,000 for a Shelter and Services Program (SSP) to support CBP in effectively managing noncitizen processing and preventing the overcrowding of short-term CBP holding facilities.”

The program was created by Heinrich and and Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, in a law known as the Emergency Appropriations by Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act.

Arizona got $45.4 million in the first funding round, and expects to receive $23.9 million in the second allocation.  California got $44 million in the first funding round, and is set to receive $15 million in this allocation. New Mexico obtained $29 million in the first round of funding, and is expected to receive a higher amount in the second allocation. Yet, Heinrich’s office notes that New York City got about $30 million in the first round, and will get $104.6 million in the second allocation.

“New York’s allocation constitutes about a third of the total funding in the second allocation,” the release said.

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