Trump Administration Transferred $9.8 Million From FEMA To ICE

Trump Administration Transferred $9.8 Million From FEMA To ICE

Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) released the Department of Homeland Security document, which authorizes the transfer of money from FEMA's travel, training, public engagement and information technology budgets for explicit use in ICE detention centers.

As a powerful hurricane makes its way toward the Carolinas, one Senator is accusing President Donald Trump's administration of taking money earmarked for FEMA and diverting it to ICE. It came in under budget for expenses including travel, training and office supplies and money was moved. FEMA and nine other agencies under the Department of Homeland Security had approximately 1% taken from their budgets to be put toward ICE's detention facilities.

DHS pointed out that the money transferred from FEMA to ICE is less than 1 percent of FEMA's budget, which was originally $1.03 billion for 2018. "This is a sorry attempt to push a false agenda at a time when the administration is focused on assisting millions on the East Coast facing a catastrophic disaster".

The almost $10 million diverted to ICE comes from a roughly $1 billion operating budget that supports much of FEMA's efforts beyond the immediate response to a declared emergency, said a former FEMA official who asked not to be identified because he still does business with the agency.

"It's shameful but not surprising that the President would rob FEMA to pay for his callous policy of ripping families apart", Connolly said in a statement, which also criticized the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico past year.

Merkley, a Democrat from OR, said on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show" that the administration is taking money from "response and recovery" and "working hard to find funds for additional detention camps". "When American citizens in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are still suffering from FEMA's inadequate recovery efforts-the administration transferred millions of dollars away from FEMA".

Merkely said he believes the budgeting reallocation happened in response to the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy, which was rolled out earlier this year.

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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.

But Homeland Security officials said the funds were in savings and would have been lost had they not been transferred before the fiscal year ended September 30.

On Twitter, Merkley called the decision to transfer funds out of FEMA - right before hurricane season - "unbelievable" and "reprehensible".

Small's organization provided Merkley with the DHS document.

Ray Zaccaro, Merkley's communications director, tells NPR the administration's response has been "defensive and completely fallacious".

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".

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