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Federal Government Reimburses San Antonio for Just Half of the Money It Spent Aiding Asylum Seekers 

click to enlarge Asylum seekers leave the city's Migrant Assistance Center. - TWITTER / @TPRNEWS
  • Twitter / @TPRNews
  • Asylum seekers leave the city's Migrant Assistance Center.
The federal government will only reimburse San Antonio for half the money it spent aiding the surge of asylum seekers who passed through the city this spring.

According to a memo from City Manager Erik Walsh, the Alamo City will receive $280,200 in federal funds instead of the $540,500 it requested under a program intended to cover cities' cost of dealing with the recent influx of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Much of San Antonio's expenditures came from running the Migrant Resource Center, a downtown storefront where volunteers help migrants seek legal aid and transportation to new locations. The center has assisted 32,200 people since it opened on March 30.

The federal reimbursement was made available through the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill passed earlier this year at the urging of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and others. According to Walsh's memo, the board overseeing the measure's $30 million appropriation has only disbursed $7.8 million of the total.

"[The board] intends to open a second round of reimbursements," Walsh said. "We will continue to work closely with our congressional delegation to pursue additional reimbursements for the city."

Melody Woosley, director of San Antonio's human services department, said the city is trying to get official answer from federal officials why all of its invoices weren't covered under the grant. The city will continue to pursue additional reimbursement, she added.

"When we began this, we didn't know whether we'd be reimbursed for anything," she said. "It's a good news story that we were reimbursed for the amount we were, but we'd like to be reimbursed for all of it."

According to a news release from Cuellar's office, Catholic Charities received an additional $361,000 of the funding for its work helping migrants in San Antonio. The San Antonio Food Bank also received $62,500 and the United Way another $12,900.

The congressman also said he will continue working with local governments to make sure they are reimbursed. The funding board is planning a “second review” to allow municipalities and nonprofits to resolve issues discovered during the review process, he added.

“The surge of migrants strained our cities and nonprofits to the breaking point, so securing this reimbursement funding was at the top of my priority list,” Cuellar said in a news release.

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