Sinema Challenges Schumer, Jeffries, and White House on Border Issues

( – In Fiscal Year 2023, the US government allocated approximately $800 million of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding to its new Shelter and Services Program (SSP). In June, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released roughly $290 million of that total and kept a little over $73 million in reserve for distribution later.

However, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) is fighting mad that over one-third of those funds, $104.6 million, went to assist the State of New York and New York City to shelter immigrants rather than helping the hard-hit communities in Southern Arizona and Southern Texas. Sinema pulled no punches as she criticized Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), accusing them of using their positions to advantage the distribution to their state ahead of red states like Arizona and Texas. The Biden administration didn’t escape her wrath, either.

Independent Sinema and Border-State Democrats vs. Leadership

In an August 16 interview with POLITICO, Sinema pointed out how leaders Jeffies and Schumer released a joint statement on June 7, ahead of either FEMA or the DHS, notifying their constituents about the distribution of over $100 million in SSP funds earmarked for New York. By contrast, the DHS didn’t issue its statement until June 12.

Reacting to the Jeffries-Schumer statement, border-state Senate Democrats issued their own statement calling out the Biden administration for ignoring Congressional intent behind the SSP. Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) joined Sinema as they pointed out that Congress specifically authorized the program to assist affected border communities affected by the migration crisis.

By the Numbers

Stating, “The Biden Administration shortchanged border communities when they need support the most,” the senators explained how New York and other East Coast cities had taken significant portions of the $800 million they had worked to appropriate for hard-hit border towns. To make their point, they cited examples.

Of the $290 million released in June, border states received allocations as follows:

  • Arizona: $23.9 million
  • California: $31.7 million
  • New Mexico: nearly $12 million
  • Texas: slightly less than $62.5 million

However, non-border states and cities received the following allocations:

  • New York City: over $104.6 million
  • Colorado and the City of Denver: more than $9.8 million
  • Washington, DC: almost $5.2 million
  • Florida: $3.2 million
  • City of Atlanta, Georgia: $3.6 million
  • City of Chicago and the State of Illinois: nearly $30 million
  • Louisiana: $750,000
  • Maine: $500,000
  • Boston, Massachusetts: $2 million
  • Minnesota: $1.3 million

The allocations to California, Arizona, and New Mexico comprised less than one-quarter of the total. Even adding the distributions for Texas to the total amount received by border states, the states on the front lines of the immigration crisis received less than half of the funding to deal with the issues.

Sinema said she and Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn worked hard and went to bat last year to obtain the SSP funding with the explicit understanding that the Biden administration would use it to help border communities. She said the fact that so much has gone to sanctuary cities in the nation’s interior would make future bipartisan support unlikely.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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