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DHS Coordinates with and Funds Nonprofits Serving Noncitizens Along the Southwest Border

In accordance with the FY 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act, $800 million was appropriated for a new Shelter and Services Program that is to be administered by FEMA, with cooperation from CBP, with a portion of that funding able to be awarded through the EFSP while FEMA establishes the new program.

Nonprofit organizations (nonprofits) along the southwest border provide services such as food, shelter, and travel assistance when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) releases noncitizens into the U.S. while they await proceedings in immigration court. 

Via a Q&A, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that about two-thirds of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field locations in states along the southwest border reported coordinating with local nonprofits when releasing noncitizens from DHS custody. Officials said they conduct this coordination to avoid, to the greatest extent possible, releasing noncitizens directly into border communities without immediate support.

DHS’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Food and Shelter Program provided more than $282 million in humanitarian relief grant funding to nonprofit and governmental organizations. This grant funding covered services provided to noncitizens in fiscal years 2019, 2021, and 2022 (no funding was appropriated to the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) for humanitarian relief in fiscal year 2020). DHS has not entered into any contracts with nonprofits to provide services to noncitizens after they are released from custody.

In accordance with the FY 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act, $800 million was appropriated for a new Shelter and Services Program that is to be administered by FEMA, with cooperation from CBP, with a portion of that funding able to be awarded through the EFSP while FEMA establishes the new program. FEMA officials reported that the Shelter and Services Program is to replace the humanitarian relief funding provided as part of the EFSP. The Explanatory Statement accompanying the FY 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act states that this new program is to support CBP in effectively processing noncitizens and preventing overcrowding of short-term CBP holding facilities. 

On February 28, 2023, FEMA announced a $350 million funding opportunity for the EFSP National Board to distribute humanitarian funding to nonprofit and governmental organizations providing services to noncitizens. 

In March, FEMA officials reported that the agency was engaging with stakeholders to obtain feedback and develop the parameters for the Shelter and Services program, and that they planned to issue a Notice of Funding Opportunity by mid-June 2023.

CBP, ICE, and nonprofit officials identified maintaining good communication and relationship-building as important for efficient coordination. They also told GAO that they experienced challenges related to the coordination and provision of services. For example, they reported experiencing difficulties in (1) planning for fluctuation in the number of noncitizens released over time, (2) having enough capacity to meet the high volumes of noncitizens needing services, and (3) coordinating on timing and logistics in transporting noncitizens. For example, some nonprofits do not operate 24 hours a day, which can create timing and logistics challenges in transporting noncitizens so that they will arrive at the nonprofit during certain times of the day.

Read the full report at GAO

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.
Homeland Security Today
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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