ibusinesslines.com September 21, 2018

Sen. Jeff Merkley slams Trump administration over FEMA funding

15 September 2018, 11:58 | Erica Roy

Doc Shows Trump Transferred $10M From FEMA To ICE

FEMA Says It’s Ready for Hurricane Florence, Defends 2017 Response

The Trump administration shifted almost US$10 million (NZ$15 million) from the federal agency in charge of hurricane and natural disaster response at the start of hurricane season to help fund the enforcement of immigration policies.

The money comes from the agency's budgets for travel, training, public engagement and information technology work - not disaster relief funding, according to the official document and the Department of Homeland Security.

FEMA said the diverted funds are less than 1 percent of the agency's total operational expenses and it has a separate account totaling $25 billion that it uses for disaster responses.

Some of the $10 million was coming from FEMA categories including "Response and Recovery", "Mitigation" and "Preparedness and Protection" - categories that, while sounding as if they would involve hurricane response, do not.

The Trump administration this summer quietly redirected $200 million from all over the Department of Homeland Security to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, despite repeated congressional warnings of ICE's "lack of fiscal discipline" and "unsustainable" spending.

In the request, immigration officials said they need the extra money to cover rising costs associated with arrests and deportations.

The transfer from FEMA to ICE is less than 1% of FEMA's overall budget.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) highlighted the transfer of funds during a Tuesday night interview with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. "So $10 million dollars comes out of FEMA when we're facing hurricane season, knowing what happened a year ago, and look what's happened since?"

A year ago the USA dealt with multiple hurricanes making landfall and causing destruction in their wake.

Carlos Giusti/AP, FILEDepartment of Hometown Security personnel converse provides to Santa Ana community residents within the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico, Oct. 5, 2017. Additionally, Hurricane Harvey struck Texas in August and Hurricane Irma struck Florida in September, leaving FEMA stretched thin.

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a member of the Homeland Security subcommittee, sent a statement to NPR denouncing the "hefty price" of Trump's immigration policies.

The CNN also received a copy of the document from the Democrat's office.

Congress sets funding levels for all parts of government through the appropriations process, but funding reprogramming requests like this one are authorized under the law for relatively small amounts of money within agencies.

Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts.

"Without the transfers and reprogramming identified in this notification, ICE will not be able to fulfill its adult detention requirements in [fiscal year] 2018", the document reads.

He claimed that the money moved to ICE was "to build more prison camps" for undocumented immigration at the U.S. -Mexico border.

The precise timing of the reallocation is unclear, as the document, which refers to Fiscal Year 2018, does not include an exact date.

The documents surfaced, however, just as Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the American coast and is expected to make landfall on Thursday night at North Carolina and SC.

Houlton said in a statement that Homeland Security is "fully focused on preparing for, responding to, and recovering from Hurricane Florence and the storms in the Pacific".

"Then, once the system makes landfall, here, again, storm surge has the highest potential to kill the most amount of people", said Long.

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