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County Administrator wants Stonegarden grant to reimburse costs for asylum seekers

Posted at 8:46 PM, May 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-03 01:53:44-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Pima County has been receiving Operation Stonegarden grants for more than a decade. Traditionally, the funds have reimbursed law enforcement overtime and equipment.

But now, the Pima County Administrator wants to use the money for something else.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 7,000 asylum seekers have been brought to Tucson.

The migrants are in town for just a couple days, but providing resources like food, water, temporary housing, and transportation is adding up.

So far, the Pima County Health Department has spent nearly $16,000 providing medical care to asylum seekers, including vaccinations.

That's money, Chuck Huckelberry, says needs to be reimbursed through Operation Stonegarden.

"It's a form of humanitarian aid, because providing medical services and medical supplies is humanitarian aid to that population," Huckelberry said.

Huckelberry says an information bulletin issued Nov. 27, 2018 by the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA expands the use of funds.

The bulletin he's referring to, No. 436, allows for grant funding related to the reimbursement of costs related to providing humanitarian relief to unaccompanied children and adults with children.

Huckelberry says he also wants the money to reimburse nonprofits that have provided resources and volunteers over the past several months.

It's unclear in the FEMA bulletin if that could be done.

"There may be a fire, there may be a flood, there may be another community emergency where the Red Cross and others are needed," Huckelberry said. "And if we exhaust their resources in other areas, then the community's in jeopardy."

Pima County is now determining the costs for reimbursement provided through Catholic Community Services and others.

The Board of Supervisors will discuss applying for the grant during the meeting on May 7.