June 14, 2024

Warren, Markey, Massachusetts Congressional Delegation Urge Biden Administration to Approve State’s Bid for Additional Funding to Support New Arrivals

“As the Commonwealth stands by its values and continues to welcome new arrivals, the state needs more federal funding to respond to a national trend of increased immigration.”

Letter Text (PDF)

Washington, D.C.  – Today, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), along with the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation, sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell, urging them to approve Massachusetts’ application for an additional $34.5 million in funding through the Shelter and Services Program (SSP) to better support new arrivals. At the moment, Massachusetts — the only state in the nation with a “right-to-shelter” law — has almost 7,500 families in its shelter system, with many living in the state’s overflow sites and others on waiting lists for shelter. 

“SSP funding is urgently needed in Massachusetts,” wrote the lawmakers. “With shelter facilities at capacity, families have been forced to sleep outdoors and in cars, in a state with below-freezing temperatures for months of the year. Some have turned to airport lobbies and hospital emergency rooms for makeshift shelter. The Commonwealth is now running out of shelter funding and faces a shortfall in its shelter budget for the upcoming fiscal year.”

SSP covers shelter, food, and other essential services for newly arriving migrants and has served as a critical source of funding for shelters nationwide. Last year, Massachusetts only received $1.9 million of the $800 million in SSP funds allocated in FY2023. This funding year, only $650 million has been appropriated for SSP — less than half of the $1.4 billion requested by the Biden administration. Massachusetts alone anticipates spending $900 million on its Emergency Shelter System in FY2025.

“(We) urge FEMA to fulfill the Commonwealth’s entire request for $34.5 million from the pool of competitive SSP grant funds. Additional SSP funding is critical to ensure that Massachusetts receives an equitable share of funding that reflects the financial costs the Commonwealth is incurring,” continued the lawmakers. “Meanwhile, we will continue to fight for additional federal funding for communities hosting new arrivals.” 

“As the Commonwealth stands by its values and continues to welcome new arrivals, the state needs more federal funding to respond to a national trend of increased immigration. We thus ask you to promptly approve Massachusetts’ application,” concluded the lawmakers.

Senator Warren has led ongoing efforts to protect the rights of asylum seekers and other migrants, and to hold the United States accountable to its humanitarian obligations: 

  • In May 2024, Senators Warren, Markey, and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) sent a letter to Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Chair Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Ranking Member Katie Britt (R-Ala.) requesting at least $500 million for a new Destination Reception Fund (DRF) to support new arrivals, complementing existing SSP funds. 
  • In February 2024, Senators Warren and Markey sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Vice Chair Susan Collins (R-Maine), urging them to increase funding for FEMA’s SSP to $5 billion in the upcoming Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill for fiscal year 2024. Funding would support entities that provide shelter and services to new arrivals, which is timely as Massachusetts works to meet migrants’ housing needs.
  • In February 2024, Senator Warren and colleagues submitted an amendment to the Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2024 that would provide $5 billion for the FEMA SSP without requiring U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to ramp up its detention and deportation efforts.
  • In December 2023, Senator Warren, along with the entire Massachusetts delegation, wrote to FEMA raising concerns about a lack of federal funding for non-border states like Massachusetts experiencing a significant influx of migrants and requesting additional federal SSP funding for the Commonwealth.
  • In November 2023, Warren, Markey, Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent a letter to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Ur Jaddou, commending DHS for the steps it has taken to expand access to employment authorization documents (EADs) for eligible noncitizens, and laying out several policy proposals to help address delays in issuing EADs. 
  • In September 2023, Senators Warren and Markey applauded the Biden administration’s redesignation of TPS for Venezuelan migrants.
  • In August 2023, Senators Warren and Markey, along with the entire Massachusetts congressional  delegation, sent a letter to Secretary Mayorkas and Director Jaddou, urging them to expedite the processing of EADs for individuals paroled into the United States, which would lessen the strain on available humanitarian and housing resources.