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FEMA funds paid to all AZ groups approved for 2019 migrant care work reimbursements

By: - February 25, 2020 10:10 am

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Fifteen Arizona groups have received payment from a federal agency that in October approved more than $700,000 for local non-profits, faith groups and governments to cover part of the funds they spent assisting migrant families released by border and immigration officials last year. 

As of Jan. 26, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had sent almost $730,000 in payments to the city of Tucson, Pima County, The Salvation Army in Yuma, St. Vincent de Paul Society in Phoenix and other non-profits and faith groups in the Phoenix and Tucson areas, a FEMA spokesman told Arizona Mirror

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The federal funds are part of a $4.6 billion emergency border aid bill approved by Congress in June 2019 amid a surge of migrant families and minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, and public outrage over the deaths of migrant children and conditions at border detention centers. 

The border aid bill allocated $30 million to FEMA to distribute among communities that experienced the influx of migrant families.

The first round of FEMA funds covered work done in the first six months of 2019. Since October 2018, Arizona groups have partnered with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help thousands of migrant mothers, fathers and children reach their destinations elsewhere in the country. 

ICE continues with its work of releasing migrant families to community groups, agency spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe said. In the week of Jan. 21 through Jan. 27, she said 373 migrant family members were released in Arizona.   

The allocation of the FEMA funds had frustrated both large non-profits with experience in applying for federal grants and smaller groups with little resources. They have said the process is confusing and difficult to navigate.

The first round of FEMA funds for migrant assistance work awarded about $8 million nationally.

A second application period covering assistance provided to migrant families from Jan. 1, 2019 to Jan. 31, 2020, is currently underway and closes March 16.

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Laura Gómez
Laura Gómez

Laura Gómez Rodriguez previously covered state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror.