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

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

However, some are questioning the Trump administration's decision to divert funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in order to provide more beds at its adult detention centers on the border. DHS also transferred $33 million from other ICE programs to pay for detention and removal, making the total amount of money transferred $202 million.

Merkley appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show Tuesday night to detail his claims. "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".

Well, that didn't stop him from pulling almost $10 million from this year's FEMA budget, right at the beginning of hurricane season, to help fund ICE.

While it's not uncommon for agencies to move money around, FEMA's budget was decimated previous year 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.

In a briefing Wednesday, a FEMA response and recovery official told reporters the agency has "plenty of resources" to respond to to the storm, now approaching the Carolinas and Georgia. The budget document Merkley cited, which was later released and publicized by the DHS Watch program at America's Voice, an advocacy group based in Washington, showed a breakdown of how DHS moved money between different programs and agencies.

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The Department of Homeland Security denies that any money transferred came from FEMA's disasters relief accounts, which pay for work related to hurricanes and other natural disasters.

"It does not come out of the disaster relief fund that funds everything behind me and in the field so it's a non-issue for us at this moment", administrator Brock Long said this morning on ABC's "Good Morning America", gesturing to workers at computers at FEMA headquarters in Washington.

The transfer occurred earlier this summer and such transfers between government agencies are not unusual.

Former DHS and FEMA officials, however, disputed the spokesman's claim that the money in question was distinct from "hurricane response", saying these funds were critical to the agency's overall mission of storm preparedness and response, even if they were not explicitly earmarked for disaster relief. "So $10 million dollars comes out of FEMA when we're facing hurricane season, knowing what happened past year, and look what's happened since?" He has continued to be a critical voice on the Trump administration's immigration policy, which included separating families at the border when the administration chose to criminally detain individuals caught crossing the border illegally. Future requests should include "transparent and publically-available evidence" that the money is required because of "circumstances. that are truly beyond ICE's control", the senators said.

"This is a scandal", Merkley said in a statement.

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The document lists the additional money was taken to help ICE detain immigrants along the southern border, fund beds in detention centers and remove undocumented immigrants from the country.

Congress has long restricted how much money goes to ICE as a way of forcing it to prioritize its immigration enforcement efforts.

Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego told CNN following a meeting between DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on July 25 that each DHS department would be contributing toward ICE's detention activities.

"We're ready. FEMA is ready".

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