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

Lester Mason
September 14, 2018

News that the Trump administration moved funds out of the agency tasked with coordinating the federal government's disaster response efforts comes as the administration is scrambling to prepare for Hurricane Florence, which has been described as "one of the strongest hurricanes to churn toward the eastern seaboard in decades".

"It wasn't enough to rip thousands of children out of the arms of their parents", Merkley said in a statement Tuesday night.

"Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts". The transfer of almost $10 million from FEMA ignited public outrage as the southeastern United States braces for a powerful hurricane, Florence, and the likelihood of a costly response and cleanup effort.

Tyler Q. Houlton, a homeland security spokesman, said on Twitter that Merkley's revelation was 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".

"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", he said in a statement.

The deal would keep the government open using a series of spending bills, including a "continuing resolution" that would fund federal agencies through December 7. "FEMA officials have already stated that no money was transferred from disaster accounts, despite the misleading and distractive narrative being pushed".

FEMA said the diverted funds are less than 1 percent of the agency's total operational expenses and it has a separate account totaling $25 billion that it uses for disaster responses.

Long is the latest in a long line of Trump administration officials to come under fire for misusing government funds on travel.

He said the document makes it clear ICE is using money from FEMA "to build more detention centers".

DHS is required to notify the House and Senate Appropriations Committees of reprogramming of funds in excess of $5 million, according to a 2009 appropriations measure.

Without the extra money, officials warned in the request, they may be forced to suspend arrests and deportations of people deemed "threats to public safety" until Congress passes a full spending bill. Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia were the sole decisionmakers.

"As an overall, the meeting was long on excuses and on misrepresentations and short on information and solutions. one thing we do know, they are taking 1% of every DHS department and putting that towards family detention and family separation", Gallego said.

The funds redirected from FEMA this summer only covered a small portion of ICE's overspending.

According to the documents, this is at least partially true.

The Coast Guard is losing $14 million it would have spent on maintenance, while the Federal Air Marshals program is being decreased and the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction office is not getting funds for planning and training materials.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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