New grant supports organizations on front lines of migrant influx in DC

Earlier this year, the governors of Texas and Arizona began sending busloads of asylum-seeking migrants from the U.S. southern border to D.C.

On Thursday, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine unveiled a new grant program to support the volunteers and local nonprofit organizations on the front lines of providing humanitarian aid to the new arrivals.

In April, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began bussing migrants to the District. In May, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey joined the effort, which is in response to President Joe Biden’s decision to lift a pandemic-era emergency health order that restricted migrant entry numbers by denying them a chance to seek asylum. The rule remains in effect under court order.

Since then, more than 6,000 migrants, including families and children, have embarked on the long bus ride to Union Station.

“The decision by the governors of Texas and Arizona to bus asylum-seeking migrants to the District is causing a humanitarian crisis,” Racine said in a news release announcing the creation of the new grants.

The vast majority of migrants are being dropped at Union Station with nowhere to go and no community ties. Many are in need of housing, food, clothing, transportation and legal assistance. Volunteers and local nonprofit organizations have stepped in to provide these basic services, without support from local officials.

“The organizations and individuals who have shouldered the burden of providing basic needs and services, including housing, food, transportation and legal assistance, are understandably strained and simply cannot be expected to carry this responsibility alone,” Racine said.

The OAG said the newly-established grants will provide up to $50,000 per grant, per organization, and must be spent in Fiscal Year 2022 — in other words by Oct. 1 — to provide immediate assistance for migrants.

Total grant funding will not exceed $150,000 and will be paid for by the OAG’s Litigation Support Fund. The OAG has discretionary authority to issue grants to protect public safety or support vulnerable communities.

“I welcome further collaboration with our governmental and nongovernmental partners to ensure we are using every tool at our disposal to support this community,” Racine said.

Eligible applicants must be a nonprofit, community-based organization with a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) tax status that will provide services to assist the vulnerable migrant population. They must also submit a scope-of-work proposal that will outline services and resources to be provided and a report on the number of migrants served. Proposals are due by 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 16.

The announcement of the new OAG grants comes a week after the Pentagon rejected a request from D.C. seeking National Guard assistance in response to the influx of migrants and asylum-seekers.

In a statement, a Defense Department official said, “We can confirm that the Secretary of Defense received a request from the office of the Mayor of DC, but as this is a pending request, we are not prepared to comment on the specifics of the request at this time. The Secretary takes this request for assistance very seriously. He and his team are working through the details, and will respond to the mayor’s office as soon as a decision has been reached.”

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