BernCo has $100K plan to aid asylum-seekers - Albuquerque Journal

BernCo has $100K plan to aid asylum-seekers

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Bernalillo County officials say they plan to use $100,000 in behavioral health tax revenues to aid asylum-seekers, marking the second local government allocation to the effort this week.

The plan involves expanding the “Adverse Childhood Experiences contract to fund services, classes and resources for young asylum seekers and their parents,” according to a media alert promoting a news conference scheduled for today.

The county currently collects about $21 million annually in a behavioral health care tax approved by voters in 2014. The resulting “Behavioral Health Initiative” has created 19 programs, including a Downtown re-entry resource center to aid just-released jail inmates and peer drop-in centers to help residents dealing with mental illness.

PB&J Family Services, a local nonprofit with an existing contract, will work with the asylum-seekers under the $100,000 allocation, according to the county.

Federal immigration officials are busing the asylum-seekers into Albuquerque after processing and screening at the border. They typically stay in the city two or three days before leaving to meet sponsors elsewhere in the U.S.

“The staff from PB&J will go to the asylum seekers to provide crisis debrief services and to teach coaching skills,” Margarita Chavez Sanchez, assistant director of the county’s Behavioral Health Services Department, said in a written statement.

She added that it would be “short-term services and potentially only one-time engagements.”

Albuquerque officials said this week that more than 2,200 asylum-seekers have come through the city already. Faith-based groups and community organizations have hosted the migrants, providing shelter, food, clothing and medical care. Volunteers and private donations have fueled the local effort, although the Albuquerque City Council this week approved spending $250,000 to assist.

Also, Expo New Mexico has opened the state fairgrounds dormitories to temporarily shelter the asylum-seekers.

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