Arizona’s Sinema, Kelly accuse Biden administration of misallocating border funds

Aug 18, 2023, 2:00 PM | Updated: 2:04 pm

File photo headshots of Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema. Arizona's U.S. senators aren't happy about h...

Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona aren't happy about how $800 million in funding earmarked for a new border support program is being spent. (Getty Images File Photos)

(Getty Images File Photos)

PHOENIX — Arizona’s U.S. senators aren’t happy about how the Biden administration is spending $800 million in funding earmarked for a new border support program.

Independent Kyrsten Sinema and Democrat Mark Kelly helped secure the money for a new Shelter and Services Program (SSP) as part of the 2023 appropriations bill.

The SSP was supposed to help local governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with the costs of migrant encounters at the border in communities directly impacted, the senators said in a press release Friday.

Sinema and Kelly were not happy when the first $291 million tranche of funding was announced June 12 and only $23.9 million went to Arizona. Meanwhile, New York City received $104.6 million, more than any Southwest border state, according to a letter the two senators sent to federal officials last week.

What does letter from Sinema, Kelly say?

The Aug. 11 missive was addressed to Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell and Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Troy Miller.

“These funding allocations demonstrate the failure of your agencies to prioritize the border communities that are on the frontlines,” the letter says. “Due to insufficient funding, Arizona localities and NGOs will likely run out of SSP funding in early 2024. SSP has not been established to adequately meet the needs of border communities and the critical providers operating in the border environment.”

Sinema and Kelly included a list of areas for DHS to address, including a request that all remaining SSP funding be allocated to border communities.

“At a time when Arizona is experiencing an influx in migration, especially in remote areas of Arizona’s border during extreme heat weather, we need your agencies to immediately correct mistakes made with SSP and ensure Arizona receives the support and funding needed to manage this border crisis,” the letter says.

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Arizona’s Sinema, Kelly accuse Biden administration of misallocating border funds