As border communities continue to struggle amid the ongoing crisis of illegal crossings, two congressmen have sent a letter asking the U.S. House Appropriations Committee to consider additional funding for first responders.
U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) sent a letter Tuesday to House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) and ranking member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). The letter requests that any “supplemental funding package include funding for critical programs to aid first responders in communities impacted by immigration.”
The congressmen noted the rapid uptick in illegal crossings along the southwest border, sharing the historic number of encounters.
Last month, Texas Scorecard reported that in September alone the total of encounters was 269,735—higher than any month before. As September closed out the 2023 federal fiscal year, the number of encounters reached a record-breaking 2,475,669—the highest number on record, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“Local police departments are barred from directly enforcing immigration laws. However, first responders, particularly local law enforcement, are fielding significantly more calls, including for organized criminal activity, loitering, trespassing, and emergency response,” reads the letter. “Even without violent criminal conduct, every call to a police department, fire department, or EOC increases the strain on resources and personnel that makes it harder for them to help taxpaying permanent residents.”
The congressmen said that due to the increased strain on resources of local governments, they are calling on Granger and DeLauro to “consider any supplemental funding under the Department of Homeland Security or Department of Justice.”
In the letter, McCaul and Gallego name multiple programs to which the money could go, including Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants, Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG), and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) grants.
“This funding is critical to providing state and local agencies with the resources they need to hire more police officers, firefighters, and emergency responders, as much-needed equipment and overtime pay for first responders who are already on the frontlines of this crisis.”
Granger has announced that she will be retiring at the end of her current term, which concludes in January 2025. On Friday, State Rep. Craig Goldman (R–Fort Worth) announced that he will be running for her seat.
Currently in Texas’ third special legislative session, legislators are discussing measures to protect the border.
The third special session ends on November 7.