Norton to propose bill to help federal government bus migrants in DC
FEMA said staff members of its food and shelter program are also talking to more local nonprofits and self-help groups helping migrants examine their needs.
WASHINGTON – FEMA may eventually help more groups providing humanitarian services to migrants who are bussed in DC
Since April, the states of Texas and Arizona have sent a total of 4,000 asylum seekers to the district on chartered buses.
The action of these States has exhausted the resources of the District.
Migrants have started entering homeless shelters in DC, according to several district officials. While local nonprofits like Sanctuary DMV and the DC Mutual Aid Network say their groups have been physically and financially stressed to help arriving asylum seekers.
Over the weekend, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser urged the federal government to help migrants arriving in the capital.
“This is a federal problem that DC cannot bear alone,” she said. “We need a federal response.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) supports the work of nonprofit organizations that help local governments deal with migrant influxes.
The National EFSP Council is the sole recipient of FEMA’s EFSP grant funds, according to the agency. The National Council of the EFSP also includes representatives of the 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.
According to FEMA, each local United Way chapter is responsible for channeling funds to nonprofits in need.
This FEMA program has previously provided $2.2 million in humanitarian funding to UAS First Response in DC and the United Way of the National Capital Area.
On Tuesday, FEMA said staff members of its food and shelter program are also talking with other nongovernmental agencies and self-help groups in the DC area to explore what their needs are and how the program FEMA grants could possibly help their work serving migrants.
It is not currently known with which exact organizations FEMA has held discussions with in the area.
However, some of the local organizations that have already received grants say they need more.
UAS First Response told WUSA9 last week that the FEMA grant it received has not given the organization enough money to meet the demands of arriving migrants.
A spokesperson for SAMU First Response said that when the organization first applied for the grant, only one or two buses from Texas and Arizona arrived in DC each day. Now the organization says there are usually four to five.
Local pleas for federal aid have not gone unnoticed on Capitol Hill.
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) on Tuesday announced plans to introduce a bill that would provide additional funding for FEMA’s food and shelter program. A press release from Norton’s office said funding for the legislation would be specifically targeted for humanitarian assistance to migrants, including those bused to the district from Texas and Arizona.
“The governors of Texas and Arizona are exploiting and hurting vulnerable people fleeing desperate and dangerous situations in their home countries for political purposes,” Norton said. “I commend the labor organizations in DC and the National Capital Region for helping these migrants, but more funding is needed to help these families.”
Busing migrants to DC will also be a point of discussion at a virtual meeting of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments on Friday.
Regional leaders are expected to discuss the best ways to provide a humane response to immigrants seeking asylum in the DC area and how best to ensure access to health care for local immigrant populations.
Brianne Nadeau, DC Board Member, will chair the meeting. While Montgomery County Council Member Will Jawando and Fairfax County Supervisor Penny Gross will co-chair.
Representatives from EMS First Response, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, Mary’s Center and the Culmore Clinic are also expected.