Trump's DHS shifted almost $10 million from FEMA to ICE

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

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

The Department of Homeland Security transferred almost $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a budget document released by a Democratic senator late Wednesday night, diverting funds from the relief agency just as a major hurricane barrels toward the East Coast.

He based his claim on a 39-page Department of Homeland Security transfer and reprogramming report dated August 31.

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

In a statement, FEMA Director of External Affairs Jessica Nalepa referred any questions about the reported investigation to the DHS inspector general's office, and said the disaster agency cooperated with all such investigations.

The hearing titled, "Evaluating Federal Disaster Response and Recovery Efforts", would have reviewed FEMA's response to natural disaster.

Because of the loss of the $9.75 million, FEMA "will curtail training, travel, public engagement sessions, IT security support and infrastructure maintenance", DHS writes.

The transfer to ICE is an especially sore point with Democrats, who have been battling the administration on the detention and forced separation of immigrant families crossing the border.

While it's not uncommon for agencies to move money around, FEMA's budget was decimated a year ago due to the barrage of storms and fires that affected the nation and the agency was criticized heavily for its handling of the disaster in Puerto Rico.

According to a copy of the document obtained by CNN, the money transfer amounts to less than 1% of FEMA's overall $1.03 billion budget.

However, the document confirms that the money would be spent on ICE's detention capacity and deportation 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.

A spokesman for DHS denied any disaster relief funding was transferred to immigration enforcement. The documents said the money, about nine-tenths of one percent of FEMA's annual budget, would be transferred from FEMA's "Preparedness and Protection" and "Response and Recovery" undertakings to pay for detention beds and ICE's Transportation and Removal Program.

"If the Congress approves the request, ICE would have the funding for operations necessary to support and increase staffing and operations as the DHS secretary determines to be appropriate", Katie Waldman, a spokesperson for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement.

The Department of Homeland Security has forcefully resisted any suggestion that disaster readiness has been affected by the fund transfer. Insufficient funding could require ICE to release any new book-ins and illegal border violators.

Other DHS operations also saw their budgets cut to cover detention and deportation costs, according to the document released by Merkley. Since Republicans are in the majority for both the House and Senate, those lawmakers lead the committees.

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