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December 21, 2022

Pressley, Colleagues Applaud Inclusion of $800 Million to Support Asylum Seekers in Government Funding Bill

After Months of Advocacy, Lawmakers Secure Funding for New Shelter and Services Grant Program to Help Localities & NGOs Provide Shelter and Respite to Recently Arrived Migrants

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), along with Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), along with Congressman Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Congressman William Keating (MA-09) applauded Congressional appropriators for including $800 million to provide shelter, food and supportive services to individuals and families experiencing hunger or homelessness, and allowing humanitarian assistance to migrant families and individuals encountered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“Families fleeing humanitarian crises abroad deserve to be met with compassion and care,” said Rep. Pressley. “While Republican governors shamefully exploited vulnerable people, we have been head down advocating for the necessary federal resources to provide migrant families the shelter, food, medical care, legal services and trauma support needed to help them meet their most basic needs. I’m proud to help deliver these federal resources to help localities in Massachusetts and beyond do this essential work, and I won’t stop pressing to address the root causes of displacement and migration and transform our immigration system into one that centers peoples’ dignity and humanity.”

The funds will aid in expanding shelter capacity, and provide mental health services, adequate food, and appropriate legal services that are critical in supporting asylum seekers with legal counsel and other necessary services to facilitate a smooth process. The new grant program is to be administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as grants or cooperative agreements with state and local governments and NGOs, including up to $50 million for construction and expansion of shelter facilities. The majority of the funds are to be made available through the existing FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Program until transition to the new Shelter and Services grant program is complete.

Since March of this year, safe haven cities such as Philadelphia, New York City, the District of Columbia, Chicago, and Boston have experienced increased demand for safe and secure shelter. These locations have experienced an influx of asylum seekers from Latin America, predominantly from Venezuela, who are fleeing a government that has engaged in “crimes against humanity,” including the use of torture and sexual violence to repress dissent.

“The inclusion of $800 million in the omnibus federal funding package will help bolster our efforts to support local shelter cities and ensure municipalities have the capacity and bandwidth to support vulnerable individuals and families when they need our help the most,” said Congressman Espaillat. “Migration from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Colombia is a longstanding issue, and there is no question that Republicans have weaponized this issue. However, we have a moral obligation to answer this call to action, and this funding is part of our whole of government approach, from federal, city and state efforts to ensure asylum seekers have the support and resources needed during this critical time in their lives and for our nation.”

“I am pleased to see increased funding for the FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Program included in the government funding package,” said Congressman García. “My colleagues and I heavily advocated for these funds to urgently provide aid to families in need. Robust funding for this program will alleviate the pressures that community organizations have been facing for months. However, it is incumbent upon us as legislators, to address the root causes of migration and work on meaningful immigration reform. As we move into the 118th Congress, I strongly urge Republicans to stop playing political games with people’s lives and come to the table next year with humane immigration proposals that honor our values as a nation of immigrants.”

“I am pleased that the omnibus appropriations bill released last night includes $800 million for FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program for humanitarian assistance for vulnerable migrants,” Norton said. “After this year’s series of cynical political stunts in which governors from across the country bused migrants to large cities, including D.C., this humanitarian assistance was badly needed.”

“Our communities have risen to the challenge by welcoming and supporting migrants, but this has come at a cost to state and local governments and local non-profits,” said Congressman Bill Keating. “This $800 million in funding for the Department of Homeland Security will ensure that migrants have access to the necessities and humanitarian assistance they need directly through DHS.”

Earlier this year, Rep. Pressley, along with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Congressman Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-IL), and Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), sent a letter with 19 colleagues to the House Appropriations Committee requesting that the upcoming fiscal year 2023 continuing resolution provide an additional $50 million above the enacted fiscal year 2022  level to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program for humanitarian assistance to migrants.

Earlier this year Members of Congress also sent a letter to Senate and House Appropriations Committee leadership urging the inclusion of $500 million to support the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. Today’s announcement exceeds their request and meets the demand on the ground.

In October, Rep. Pressley joined Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation in requesting help for local organizations to find the resources they need to support newly arrived migrants in Massachusetts.

In September, Rep. Pressley, along with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Congressman Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), and Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging DHS to condemn and investigate states’ cruel migrant relocation programs and protect vulnerable asylum seekers from deportation.

Earlier in September, Rep. Pressley joined Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation in asking he Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to use their administrative authorities to ensure that the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) is awarding funds as quickly as possible to Massachusetts entities that are providing humanitarian aid to migrants arriving in Boston and flown to Martha’s Vineyard.

Rep. Pressley recently joined Senator Markey and members of the Massachusetts delegation in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) urging OIG to review the State of Florida’s apparent misuse of federal pandemic relief funds from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF), created under the American Rescue Plan Act, to relocate vulnerable immigrants from Florida to other states across the country.

She also issued a statement regarding the arrival of migrants in Massachusetts.

In November, Rep. Pressley volunteered at the Immigrant Family Services Institute in Boston to hand out grocery bags to migrant families from Haiti ahead of Thanksgiving.