Trump Administration Accused of Diverting $10 Million From FEMA to ICE

People are seen inside a shelter run by Red Cross before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Grantsboro North Carolina

People are seen inside a shelter run by Red Cross before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Grantsboro North Carolina

Jeff Merkley says the Trump administration shifted almost $10 million from the federal disaster budget - just as the hurricane season is starting - to pay for expanded immigrant detention facilities.

The Oregon senator said the administration took $9.8 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's "response and recovery" and put it in the coffers of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"We have plenty of resources to respond". It details the effects the transfer would have on FEMA's operations and from where in the budget the money would come.

Trump also took a few moments to praise his administration's response to Hurricane Maria as "incredibly successful", despite the fact that a government-commissioned study published last month found that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico because of the devastating storm. Almost $10 million in FEMA money went to ICE for detaining immigrants, or so say documents released by Sen.

It seems they can always come up with the money after the disaster.

The transfer from FEMA to ICE was a part of a $201.88 million shift in money toward ICE's detention facilities by the Department of Homeland Security. He accused the administration of diverting funds from hurricane relief just as hurricane season was starting.

But FEMA says the $10 million was not meant to go to disaster relief and represents an extremely small percentage of what is actually being spent on hurricane recovery.

"FEMA will curtail training, travel, public engagement sessions, IT security support and infrastructure maintenance, and IT investments in the legacy grants systems for transition to the Grants Management Modernization Program", the document reads.

Number two, the $10 million represents less than one percent of FEMA's operations budget.

Over the past year there have been questions about whether FEMA's resources have been spread too thin as it responds to hurricanes - the $10 million has attracted attention, but it is a small portion of FEMA's annual $15 billion budget. With this said, however, a DHS spokesperson says that the funds have nothing to do with disaster relief, meaning it won't impact FEMA's ability to help in the recovery of Hurricane Florence or any subsequent hurricanes.

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This cash, the file reveals, used to be going to back pay for "detention beds" and the "transportation and removal program".

Merkley's communications director Ray Zaccaro slammed the President for "stripping money from FEMA to pay for locking up families at the border" in a statement issued Wednesday.

The memorandum sheds light on the immigration-enforcement operations enhanced by the FEMA funds. "DHS/FEMA stand fiscally and operationally ready to support current and future response and recovery needs", Tyler Q. Houlton wrote on Twitter.

At a news conference at FEMA's Washington headquarters about the impending hurricane, officials said the agency was properly funded and prepared, and it was most important to focus on the upcoming storm, which could do catastrophic damage.

In 2017, for the first time in over a decade, the United States was hit by the highest number of major hurricanes that took almost 5,000 lives and caused damage of at least $282.16 billion- thanks in large to the Trump administration, which reportedly offered budget cuts to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) just ahead of the hurricane season. But in the past, Congress has criticized ICE's mismanagement of money.

FEMA, TSA, ICE and the Coast Guard are all agencies within the Department of Homeland Security. Precisely what their reprogramming and transfer request shows is that money is moved around inside of these accounts.

Trump praised immigration and border agents at the White House last month amid calls from some Democrats to abolish ICE. Leahy, a Democrat who is the Senate Appropriations Committee vice chairman, said the transfer was approved by the subcommittee chairs and no Democrats signed off on it.

"It wasn't enough to rip thousands of children out of the arms of their parents", Merkley said in a statement Tuesday night.

House lawmakers were told about the decision to make the payment in late July. "However, that includes things such as training", he said.

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