Skip to Content

Press Releases

Congresswoman Escobar Leads Texas Democratic Congressional Delegation Urging Gov. Abbott to Reverse Course and Accept Critical FEMA Funds to Prevent COVID-19 in Asylum-Seekers

“Your recent comments about asylum-seekers carrying COVID-19 into Texas ring hollow when you are the one standing in the way of sorely needed federal resources and ultimately is the same dangerous rhetoric fueling white supremacist attacks on immigrant and minority communities.”

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) led the Texas Democratic Congressional Delegation in sending a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott urging him to reverse course and accept Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds designated for El Paso and other localities to reimburse local governments working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by testing and quarantining asylum-seekers.

“Before COVID-19, communities on and near the border were on the front lines of providing humanitarian assistance to asylum-seekers. The pandemic has added an extra layer of resources needed by these communities to ensure both the asylum-seekers and our citizens are safe. With the recent rollback of the disastrous Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), these cities and counties are again being called upon to show compassion as they receive asylum-seekers fleeing poverty, violence, and the devastating effects of climate change,” the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers continued, “While those who were enrolled in MPP are tested for COVID-19 before crossing the border, border communities are using their own funds to provide testing and quarantining for non-MPP asylum-seekers who test positive for COVID-19. Thankfully, President Biden recognizes the crucial role these communities are filling and has directed [FEMA] to fully reimburse communities for these services. This removes the financial burden for border communities and allows them to continue welcoming asylum-seekers safely during the pandemic.”

In the letter, the lawmakers also denounced Gov. Abbott’s hypocrisy, writing that his comments about asylum-seekers carrying COVID-19 into Texas “ring hollow” when he is “standing in the way of sorely needed federal resources and ultimately is the same dangerous rhetoric fueling white supremacist attacks on immigrant and minority communities.”

The lawmakers concluded the letter by writing, “Instead of spreading xenophobic claims, we urge you to accept these vital FEMA funds localities are relying on and work with the Biden Administration as they continue to look for ways to assist both asylum-seekers and Texans.”

Joining Congresswoman Escobar are all members of the Texas Democratic Congressional Delegation: Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Al Green (TX-09), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Filemon Vela (TX-34), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Colin Allred (TX-32), Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29), and Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07).

The full text of the letter can be read here.

# # #

Stay Connected

Back to top