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Lawmakers ask for $3 billion for FEMA program funding for local asylum seeker care efforts

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and other lawmakers in Washington say a federal program that funds asylum seeker and migrant care in Arizona and elsewhere is still vastly underfunded. 

FEMA’s Shelter and Services Program funds local programs like Tucson’s Casa Alitas. The facility provides food, transportation and shelter services to migrants released by the Border Patrol.

But that operation and others have been brought to the brink several times in recent months.

In a  letter to congressional leaders this week, Sinema and other lawmakers say the program should get no less than $3 billion in funding.  They say more funding remains vital — especially as capacity issues at the federal level have put local nonprofits at the helm of responding to asylum seeker arrivals. 

FEMA’s was last given an allotment of $650 million earlier this year. 

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.Prior to joining KJZZ, she covered border and immigration at Arizona Public Media, where she was awarded a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her coverage of Indigenous-led protests against border wall construction.Reznick started her career working in bilingual newsrooms and as a freelance journalist in Amman, Jordan. Her reporting on migration, refugees and human rights has appeared on PRX’s The World, Al Jazeera and Nova PBS, among others. As a recipient of the International Labour Organization's FAIRWAY Reporting Fellowship, she spent six months reporting on labor migration issues across Arab States.Originally from Flagstaff, she likes climbing, being outdoors and Pluto.