WASHINGTON – A bipartisan letter signed by some 150 members of Congress is urging the House Appropriations Committee to double the funds for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP).
The project’s current budget is $180 million annually, and the letter, penned to the leadership of the Subcommittee on Homeland Security, is asking to bring it to $360m.
As part of the program, nonprofits at risk, including religious institutions, can apply for up to a $100,000 grant. The money can be used for security measures such as fencing, cameras, stronger doors, and the hiring of security personnel.
Several Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Federations of North America and the Secure Community Network advocated in the past two years to increase the project’s funding in light of antisemitic attacks in several states across the US.
“As you draft the Fiscal Year 2022 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, we respectfully ask you to fund the Urban Area Security Initiative Nonprofit Security Grant Program at $180 million, and $180 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program NSGP,” the members wrote. Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Democrat, and John Katko, Republican, led the bipartisan letter.
“In today’s quickly evolving threat environment, these investments are needed more than ever. Over the past year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center jointly assessed that domestic violent extremists and racially/ethnically motivated violent extremists will continue to pose a lethal threat to faith-based communities, particularly the Jewish community,” they added.
They also noted that it is difficult to detect lone offenders “due to the individualized nature of the radicalization process.”
“The Nation’s Homeland Security agencies assessed that domestic extremists, such as white supremacists, have advocated for violence against faith-based and minority communities, including Asian-Americans, in response to the COVID outbreak, and have called for infected individuals to intentionally spread COVID-19 in religious institutions such as mosques and synagogues,” the letter reads.
“Hate crimes rose to their highest numbers in a decade, including a 14% increase in anti-Jewish incidents over the previous year and constituted more than 60% of all anti-religious bias crimes reported,” the lawmakers added.
“This constituted the 23rd consecutive year where the Jewish community was the No. 1 target of all faith-based hate crimes reported. Unfortunately, today’s threat environment provides a compelling public interest in protecting against attacks on the nonprofit sector,” they said.
“As law enforcement continues to raise concerns about the threat of domestic terrorism, the NSGP serves a compelling public interest in protecting against attacks on houses of worship and other at-risk communal organizations that would disrupt the vital human and religious services they provide and threaten the lives and well-being of millions of Americans who use these agencies or live and work in proximity to them,” Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, said in a statement.
“Thanks to Congress, the program has funded some 5,000 grants over the past 15 years and about 2,000 more pending this year. Increased funding will help to close the perennial gap between requests for assistance and available funding,” he said.