MIL-OSI USA: Gallego Statement on the Senate Border Package

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Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Ruben Gallego (AZ-07)

February 04, 2024

PHOENIX – Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-03) released the following statement on the border and foreign aid supplemental package introduced in the Senate.

“Arizona and its border communities have faced unprecedented challenges to manage the humanitarian and national security crises at our southern border. Now, Congress has a chance to act.

“I’m proud that my priorities—including The Buck Stops Here Act and funding for the Shelter and Services Program—are included in the package. I firmly believe this compromise supports Arizonans and protects both our national security interests and those of our Israeli allies and Taiwanese and Ukrainian partners.

“I will do all I can to work with my colleagues in both chambers to cut through the noise and do what is best for Arizona and the country.”

Background on Rep. Gallego’s Efforts to Support Arizona’s Border Communities:

Prior to the end of Title 42 in May 2023 and after communicating with Arizona border leaders, Rep. Gallego sent four letters to Biden Administration officials and Congress requesting specific resources these communities need to reduce the burden on them and their residents.

In June, he sent an initial letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) arguing that border states like Arizona need more funding to address border crossings and provide services. He called the FEMA funding model “misguided.”

After a lackluster response from FEMA, he sent a second letter to Secretary of Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas directly, expressing his disagreement with the funding model.

Rep. Gallego also sent a letter to FEMA urging the Agency to fix a new documentation requirement that strains border communities and non-profits in Arizona, putting their funding at risk.

Following these letters, as well as a one-on-one call with Sec. Mayorkas, Rep. Gallego announced in September that he had secured over $2 million in emergency funding from the DHS to support Arizona’s border communities as they address an increase in migrant crossings.

In November, Rep. Gallego joined Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10) in sending a bipartisan letter to House Appropriations Committee leadership requesting that any FY 2024 supplemental appropriations include funding for critical programs to aid first responders in communities impacted by immigration.

After close coordination with Arizona’s non-profits, border community leaders, and law enforcement officials, Rep. Gallego rolled out his plan to institute sweeping reforms to address the problems plaguing FEMA’s failed Shelter and Services Program (SSP) that has shortchanged Arizona’s border communities on the front line of the border crisis.

In December, Rep. Gallego called on the Biden Administration to issue an emergency declaration for the Southwest Border to provide Arizona’s border communities and nonprofits the resources they need to humanely process the increased number of arrivals at the border. He also inquired about using National Guard facilities in Douglas, Arizona as emergency shelter for migrants.

Also in December, Rep. Gallego traveled across Arizona meeting with border community leaders. He met with local officials, farmers, and business owners in Yuma to discuss the impact the closing of the Lukeville Port of Entry had on their businesses and Arizona’s economy, and he visited Nogales, Bisbee, and Tucson to meet with local leaders, nonprofit officials, and representatives from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to discuss the impact of increased migration on Arizona’s border communities.

To stop the flow of fentanyl across the border, Rep. Gallego introduced the Buck Stops Here Act which would authorize the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to designate financial institutions, transaction classes, or accounts as primary money laundering concerns in connection to illicit fentanyl trafficking. He also secured two fentanyl-related provisions in the annual defense bill mandating a report on the role of the Department of Defense (DoD) in supporting a national emergency declaration combating the fentanyl crisis and mandating a threat analysis of any potential threats the illicit fentanyl drug trade poses to the defense interests of the U.S.

Rep. Gallego sent a letter to the Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, imploring the Speaker to ensure that any supplemental funding package that comes before the House addresses the needs of Arizona’s border communities, and he sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas urging the Administration to crack down on foreign travel agencies that advertise travel packages that include transportation to our Southern border, often through human smuggling organizations.