U.S. mayors say they will take on migrants, but want five times more federal funding

(The Center Square) – Denver City Councilmember Flo Alvidrez claimed earlier this month that her city is doing more than its share of carrying the burden when it comes to taking care of migrants.

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston said that the city has been the destination of choice in Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaign to ship migrants from the southern border to sanctuary cities. Johnston said the cheapest bus ticket from El Paso to the other targeted cities was Denver.

Johnston said he has talked to other mayors about taking on more migrants. Alvidrez said more cities need to step up.

“My fear is that we’re the only ones doing anything about these issues so we are going to have the entire country sending all their unhoused, sending all their migrants here,” Alvidrez said during a recent council meeting. “I want to work with other cities, and other states and other places to do their part too, this isn’t a Denver issue. This is a United States of America issue.”

Mayors across the U.S. have stated they are willing to take on more migrants but it would come with a very steep price tag.

The United States Conference of Mayors sent a letter in November to Congress saying that the federal government needs to spend far more than it has to cover the cost of the border crisis.

The Shelter and Service Program was funded at $363.8 million in fiscal year 2023.

The mayors want to increase funding to that program to $1.4 billion at a minimum.

“While we welcome migrants to our cities, we need more help to provide them food, housing, services and access to employment,” the 139 mayors stated in the letter. “In many of our cities, both city government agencies and local non-profits are overwhelmed; they simply cannot keep up with the need to provide them this most basic assistance.”

“That funding will be most welcome, but in fact more is badly needed,” the letter continued. “We specifically urge you to provide that $1.4 billion for SSP grants as a minimum and to find a way to provide considerably more funding than this to make sure that the public and private non-profit agencies and religious organizations in our cities serving migrants are able to meet the need.”

Last year, at least one politician was not happy with how the federal money earmarked for the costs of migrants was divvied up.

For example, of the $363.8 million in the federal Shelter and Service Program had in 2023, the New York Office of Management and Budget received $106.8 million, making it the biggest recipient of the program.

U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat from Arizona, was not happy his state didn’t receive more.

Gallego sent a letter in August to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas saying he was not happy money to cover the costs of migrants was being shifted from border communities to interior states.

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