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DHS announces $20.8 million for Pima County, non-profits to support migrants

Casa Alitas shelter
Posted at 7:59 PM, Apr 12, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on Thursday that it will allocate $20.8 million to Pima County to cover the costs of temporary shelter and other essential services for asylum seekers.

Diego Lopez, the executive director for Casas Alitas, shared his relief with KGUN 9, expressing the challenges faced in recent weeks as funds dwindled and no new financial support appeared on the horizon. However, with this latest round of funding, he is optimistic that they can avoid further financial strain for the foreseeable future.

"It’s a relief because I’ve been thinking of funding just lasting until June. Now I can see it lasting until the end of the year," Lopez stated.

While $20.8 million may seem substantial, Lopez emphasized that stretching these funds until the end of the year hinges on various factors, particularly the need to accommodate the high volume of asylum seekers.

"December of last year, we saw 1,800 people a day, and I want to prepare ourselves to be able to meet that need coming through but also to improve our services for the guests and the quality," Lopez explained.

Despite ongoing concerns, Lopez highlighted that the funding couldn't have arrived at a more critical time.

The recently allocated federal dollars will be retroactively applied to cover costs incurred by the county and shelters like Casas Alitas since March 31st when funding first expired.

"We’ve been at it for 10 years. We have gone from a five-bedroom house to several locations. We just need to stick a flag into the ground and see how we can make this more sustainable with the current numbers and just keep working," Lopez added.

He also expressed gratitude to the community in Southern Arizona for the donations received amid such uncertain times.

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Kenny Darr is a reporter for KGUN 9. He joined the team in January 2023. Before arriving in Arizona he was an Anchor and Reporter at KADN in Lafayette, LA. Share your story ideas with Kenny by emailing kenny.darr@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.