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California senator urges Biden administration to send more migrant FEMA funding

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(The Center Square) – Senator Laphonza Butler, D-California, urged the Biden administration to allocate further funding via the Federal Emergency Management Agency for migrant services. Under FEMA’s Shelter and Services Program, non-governmental organizations can apply for funding to provide housing and services for migrants “awaiting the outcome of their immigration proceedings.”

With a 3.2 million immigration case backlog continuing to rise, the estimated wait time for a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services proceeding is more than six years. A record 2.5 million individuals were encountered at the border in 2023.

“States, including California, continue to see significant numbers of migrant encounters at our southern border,” wrote Butler. “In San Diego, a transitional assistance center that was serving up to 1,200 migrants per day was forced to shutter after local resources provided by the County ran out. Without the intervention this transitional facility was able to provide, Border Patrol will now be forced to release an estimated 800-1000 migrants a day without orientation or basic humanitarian assistance at regional transit stations.”

Now that the county-funded, San Diego Welcome Migrant Center closed, Customs and Border Patrol staff are dropping off migrants at transit stops. According to CBS, Jewish Family Service is bussing migrants from transit stops to San Diego Old Town to take free shuttles to the airport or get on a longer-distance bus or train to their final destinations.

San Diego County Supervisor Joel Anderson, explaining why he voted against the county’s plan to fund and open a longer-term migrant center, said, “Just now, I was the lone vote against looking into a Long-Term Migrant Transfer Site and Respite Shelter in San Diego. I do not want to be complicit with a failed and broken immigration system. We should not be supporting migrant shelters in San Diego County.”

As a sanctuary state, California could provide funding to continue operations. Though the state faces a $73 billion budget deficit, it did just allow an estimated 700,000 illegal immigrants to be eligible for MediCal, the state’s taxpayer-funded public healthcare program, at an estimated cost of $3.4 billion this year.