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Trump administration diverts $10M from FEMA to ICE

Trump administration diverts $10M from FEMA to ICE

Senator Jeff Merkley from the appropriations committee released the documents on Tuesday which show the Department of Homeland Security requested money from FEMA areas like "preparedness and protection" and "response and recovery" to help fund their massive immigrant detention surge.

Furthering the bad optics over the money transfer is that went toward immigrant detention and deportation efforts, which have been maxed out, DHS says, under the push to arrest and deport more undocumented immigrants by the Trump administration, including this summer's family separations that resulted in heartrending stories of children being separated from their parents.

"This is a scandal", declared Merkley, who first provided the documents to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.

On Tuesday night, Sen.

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

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But FEMA says the $10 million was not meant to go to disaster relief and represents an extremely small percentage of what is actually being spent on hurricane recovery.

"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.

Merkley posted a Transfer/Reprogramming document from DHS that shows $9,755,303 from FEMA to ICE out of FEMA's almost $1 billion operating budget.

"This is not going to be a storm we recover from in days", Byard said at FEMA's headquarters in Washington.

The transfers benefitted ICE's detention and removal operations, NBC News reported, and documents given to Congress specifically mentioned ICE's going millions over-budget in its effort to expand the capacity of its detention centers. "DHS/FEMA stand fiscally and operationally ready to support current and future response and recovery needs", Houlton tweeted. It came in under budget for expenses including travel, training and office supplies and money was moved.

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In a Wednesday morning Twitter post, Trump doubled down on the agency's performance: "We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan)". He linked the transfer of funds to the zero-tolerance policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in May.

DHS stated in the document that the transfers to ICE were made due to "increasing operational demands".

Those beds cost an additional $93 million above the allocated budget, according to the document provided to Congress. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was sacked a year ago after it was disclosed he took costly charter flights instead of commercial planes.

The AP reported Wednesday that according to the office of Sen. 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. Leahy, a Democrat who is the Senate Appropriations Committee vice chairman, said the transfer was approved by the subcommittee chairs and no Democrats signed off on it. Ur Jaddou, director of DHS Watch, called the reshuffling of funds an example of "upside down priorities".

Federal Emergency Management Agency staff members assist survivors of Hurricane Maria in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico, on October 2, 2017.

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