Sen. Jeff Merkley: Trump Shorting Disaster Funding To Pay For Immigrant Detention

Department of Homeland Security

The ICE funding request comes weeks after the Department of Homeland Security notified congressional subcommittees that it would move roughly $200 million to ICE from the Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other DHS agencies.

Funds are regularly transferred among government departments.

Congress has two years in a row told them to stop it, told them to cut it out and the Government Accountability Office also recently issued a report calling into question the kind of fiscal management that they're using to do this.

Merkley has long criticized President Donald Trump's immigration policies, including the "zero tolerance" initiative that separated more than 2,500 children from parents arriving at the southern border seeking entry into the United States. His office has shared the file with NPR.

To cover the shortfall, DHS "reprogrammed" its financial resources, which is permitted under budget rules.

In the request for a transfer of funds, more than $4 million of the funds from FEMA are listed as "response and recovery" or "preparedness and protection".

Merkley spoke to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Tuesday night about how he obtained the documents.

After the devastation of last year's storms - the triple wallop of Hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Irma - FEMA should have the funds it needs to be prepared for another disastrous hurricane season. ICE only has roughly 40,000 spots in detention, meaning it can not possibly detain every undocumented immigrant in the US. "ICE could also be forced to reduce its current interior enforcement operations".

The latest monthly report on the Disaster Relief Fund shows more than $26.5 billion in the account as of August 31.

It just makes little or no sense why would the administration prioritize building detention centers for immigrants instead of preparing for the storm, which is literally looming over the country.

Hurricane Florence in the Atlantic Ocean as it threatens the US East Coast. "I am hopeful that the administration will see the consequences of its actions, and begin to work with Republicans AND Democrats to actually address the problems in our immigration system".

DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton called Merkley's announcement "a sorry attempt to push a false agenda", without denying the authenticity of the document.

"The money in question - transferred to ICE from FEMA's routine operating expenses - could not have been used for hurricane response due to appropriation limitations", Houlton said. "It's not surprising to see a defensive and completely fallacious response from the Trump administration to their irresponsible and risky decision to move money from FEMA", said Martina McLennan, a spokeswoman.

"The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did working along with the governor in Puerto Rico, I think was tremendous", Trump said.

Where did that money come from?

"There's perhaps never been a clearer articulation of this administration's priorities than this transfer document: cruelty over compassion". 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. And so this is the moment for Congress to intervene to actually restrict that authority that ICE has. These transfers were approved by those chairs, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia were the sole decisionmakers.

The money transferred to ICE was a small percentage of FEMA's overall budget but not related to its disaster relief funding budget.

"We'll handle it", Trump said in a video posted on his Twitter account on Wednesday.



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