FEMA: Funding transferred to ICE won't harm hurricane response


As CNN reports, this summer, Trump diverted a staggering $200 million from agencies across the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) into the ICE budget.

The story broke Tuesday night on MSBNC's "The Rachel Maddow Show", when Sen.

As a potentially catastrophic hurricane bears down on the East Coast of the USA, the shifting of $10 million from FEMA's operating budget to fund immigration detention and deportations is drawing condemnation from Democrats.

The Department of Homeland Security has forcefully resisted any suggestion that disaster readiness has been affected by the fund transfer.

However, money was taken from the response and recovery, preparedness and protection and mission support operations budgets, which are used to prepare for emergencies like Florence. Insufficient funding could require ICE to release any new book-ins and illegal border violators. In March, the White House appealed to Congress to agree to fund 51,000 beds in immigration centers, citing a growing need for space amid stepped up enforcement policies. Number one, this money does not come from FEMA's $25 billion disaster relief fund.

Merkley has been a leading critic of the Trump administration's immigration policies, including the "zero tolerance" policy at the border that resulted in almost 3,000 children separated from their families.

The funds transfer is prompting the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cut back on training, IT security and infrastructure investments, according to a document sent to Congress and released by Democratic Sen.

Merkley's office blasted the comment.

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In a statement to MSNBC, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)-which requested the $10 million in an effort to provide more funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) detention and deportation programs-confirmed that it did transfer the money away from FEMA, but insisted that none of the funds came from the agency's disaster response and recovery efforts. He also used the occasion to trumpet as an "incredible, unsung success" his administration's response to Hurricane Maria, which caused almost 3,000 deaths on Puerto Rico, a US territory already badly damaged by Hurricane Irma weeks earlier. "It wasn't enough to rip thousands of children out of the arms of their parents - the administration chose to partly pay for this horrific program by taking away from the ability to respond to damage from this year's upcoming and potentially devastating hurricane season".

"We have plenty of resources both monetary, staff and commodities to respond to the risky storm that is Hurricane Florence", administrator Jeff Byard said. "Any elected official who attempts to politicize this storm to further their own partisan agenda and personal political ambitions should be ashamed of themselves".

The money is listed as from "FEMA" with the appropriation level "Operations & Support".

And, unfortunately for FEMA, they tend to get resources after we have failed in a disaster.

"ICE continues to spend at an unsustainable rate", the Senate Appropriations Committee report accompanying its proposal for Homeland Security next fiscal year says.

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.

The agency said it is prepared for Hurricane Florence, which is expected to hit North and SC, and Virginia on Thursday or Friday.

FEMA said the biggest danger was the storm surge - a wall of water from the sea which could reach 20ft high.