FEMA denies Texas’ federal emergency declaration request over border; Abbott to appeal

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday denied a request from Texas to issue a federal disaster declaration over the ongoing issues along the southern border.

The denial was announced by Gov. Greg Abbott, who quickly said the state would appeal.

Abbott said he sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Sept. 20 asking for supplemental federal assistance to respond to the surge of migrants attempting to cross into the United States through Texas.

The governor pointed to the recent situation in Del Rio, Texas, where thousands of Haitian migrants spent days beneath a border bridge.

“President Biden has turned his back on Texans living on the border, and FEMA’s refusal to declare a federal emergency at the border puts their health, safety, and property at risk,” Abbott said in a statement.

According to FEMA’s website, an emergency declaration would provide up to $5 million in federal assistance. Any more money than that, and the president would have to report it to Congress.

The Biden administration has focused much of its efforts on working to fix the “root causes” of undocumented migration by addressing issues within struggling Central American countries.

During a press briefing last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked whether the administration believes the border is “wide open.” Psaki reiterated there is a process in place to deal with the influx of migrants.

“We are implementing our border restrictions, including Title 42, including making clear that people who are coming through irregular migration, that this is not the time to come, and they will be placed in removal proceedings,” she said.

Still, the administration is facing criticism from both sides of the aisle with some from within the president’s own party calling for an end to Title 42, specifically, which allows for the quick expulsion of some migrants due to public health concerns.

KXAN reached out to Democratic State Sen. Judith Zaffirini of Laredo who said in a statement, “The humanitarian crisis on our southern border is deeply troubling.”

“Regardless of whether FEMA authorizes Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency declaration, the federal government must meet its responsibility of improving conditions for the thousands of families along our border and in providing assistance to local organizations that desperately need support,” Zaffirini said.

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