For years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) has supported local governments and community organizations welcoming new arrivals. FEMA and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are now transitioning their federal support to the new Shelter and Services Program (SSP), to be operated out of CBP. Coinciding with the end of Title 42, the development of the SSP offers an important opportunity to improve, refine, and scale the efficient, humane, and sustainable reception of people seeking protection through careful program design in close consultation with on-the-ground service providers like border humanitarian reception shelters and respite centers.
These recommendations for the Shelter and Services Program were developed in partnership with the Women’s Refugee Commission, Border Servant Corps, International Rescue Committee, Jewish Family Service of San Diego, Mission: Border Hope, Refugees International, and Save the Children, and also informed by valuable insights from Catholic Charities, Diocese of San Diego; Catholic Charities, Diocese of Laredo; Casa Alitas-Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona; Galilee Center; Good Neighbor Settlement House; and Regional Center for Border Health. The SSP can provide critical financial support to the border shelters meeting the basic humanitarian needs of people seeking protection and supporting their onward journey while their immigration cases continue, thereby securing an indispensable component of orderly and efficient migrant management. Through a sustainable and proactive program, humanitarian reception can transition from an emergency model to a stable and sustainable everyday model, focused on the routine coordination of people seeking asylum from government custody to short-term shelter, and from short-term shelter to final destination, where many reunite with friends and family.