N.M. Delegation To FEMA: Border Communities And NGOs Must Be Properly Compensated for Administering Emergency Aid

In June, the delegation secured $30 million for border communities and organizations providing humanitarian relief to asylum seekers

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 17, 2019) – U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján, Deb Haaland, and Xochitl Torres Small sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Acting Administrator Peter T. Gaynor requesting that localities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in New Mexico be adequately reimbursed by the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) Southern Border Humanitarian Assistance program for costs incurred providing humanitarian relief to asylum seekers.

“We are discouraged by FEMA’s roll out of the EFSP Southern Border Humanitarian Assistance program, and FEMA’s lack of communication and coordination with Congress and applicants in New Mexico when developing the guidance and assistance for the application process,” the delegation wrote. “Many New Mexican applicants have found the application process overly burdensome and the documentation requirements inflexible, with no accounting for the realities of providing emergency humanitarian aid.”

In June, the lawmakers secured $30 million in reimbursement funds for localities and NGOs in New Mexico and elsewhere that provided much-needed humanitarian relief to asylum seekers.

The delegation continued, “Given the impact of the humanitarian needs on our southern border, and the strain on state, local, and NGO resources, we believe it is critical that FEMA work to ensure that border communities and NGOs are properly compensated for administering emergency aid, which is more appropriately the responsibility of federal agencies.”

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Acting Administrator Gaynor,

We write to express our deep concern that localities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in New Mexico may not be adequately reimbursed by the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) Southern Border Humanitarian Assistance program for costs incurred providing humanitarian relief to asylum seekers who arrived at the southern border, many of whom were fleeing terror and violence in their home nations.

We respectfully request that you direct the EFSP National Board to take the following four actions: First, we request an immediate extension for submitting an application for reimbursements for eligible services provided. It is our understanding that new guidance for administrative expenses were not provided to applicants until the morning of September 13th. Second, work with New Mexico local boards, state set-aside committees, eligible nonprofits, faith-based, and government (state and local) entities before awards are dispersed to ensure that eligible expenditures reflect all costs incurred. Third, we ask that the National Board work with eligible applicants to ensure that reporting requirements are not overly burdensome and preventing applicants from applying. Fourth, we ask that all applicants from New Mexico receive full reimbursements for eligible expenses.

It is clear that the federal government’s policies have put a strain on local resources by contributing to the humanitarian crisis that existed along the border. This caused New Mexico and its communities to face new and unbudgeted costs caring for asylum-seeking migrants, as federal agencies did not provide for their sufficient shelter and humanitarian needs.

We are discouraged by FEMA’s roll out of the EFSP Southern Border Humanitarian Assistance program, and FEMA’s lack of communication and coordination with Congress and applicants in New Mexico when developing the guidance and assistance for the application process. Many New Mexican applicants have found the application process overly burdensome and the documentation requirements inflexible, with no accounting for the realities of providing emergency humanitarian aid.

Given the impact of the humanitarian needs on our southern border, and the strain on state, local, and NGO resources, we believe it is critical that FEMA work to ensure that border communities and NGOs are properly compensated for administering emergency aid, which is more appropriately the responsibility of federal agencies.

New Mexicans stepped up to protect vulnerable children and families—treating them with the care, respect, and decency that is emblematic of our state and we urge that they be fairly reimbursed.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter and we stand ready to work with you on this issue.