Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

FEMA warns about hurricane as D.C

FEMA warns about hurricane as D.C

Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency insisted Wednesday that the transfer of almost $10 million of its budget to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement will not affect the agency's hurricane response and other disaster relief efforts.

Jeff Byard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's associate administrator for response and recovery, said the important issue was that the hurricane would be a "Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast" and people had to heed evacuation orders.

While DHS spokespeople have claimed the FEMA money did not come from its disaster relief coffers, the documents sent to Congress indicated it came from FEMA's "operations and support" funds.

"Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts", Houlton said on Twitter.

The agency that spearheads the federal response to natural disasters is down almost $10 million out of its $15 billion budget.

The money comes from the agency's budgets for travel, training, public engagement and information technology work - not disaster relief funding, according to the official document and the Department of Homeland Security.

Numerous transfers came from key national security programs, including $1.8 million from the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, $9.8 million from FEMA, $29 million from the U.S. Coast Guard and more than $34 million from several TSA programs. Meanwhile, a year after Hurricane Harvey brought the worst rainstorm in the nation's history to the Houston area, 50 percent of lower-income respondents in a survey conducted this summer said they weren't getting the help they needed.

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Of the $200 million, the document says $93 million will go to immigrant detention, a 3% budget increase that will fund capacity for an additional 2,300 detainees; and $107 million for "transportation and removal", or deportations, a 29% budget increase. Patrick Leahy (D-VM) told the Associated Press that Republican subcommittee chairs signed off on the transfers, without any Democratic support.

The transfer from FEMA to ICE was a part of a $201.88 million shift in money toward ICE's detention facilities by the Department of Homeland Security.

"This is a scandal", Merkley said in an emailed statement to the Post.

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. Other agencies had money moved around.

Trump praised immigration and border agents at the White House last month amid calls from some Democrats to abolish ICE.

Small said the request was part of a broader problem, and accused ICE of "robbing" money for themselves to expand their deportation and detention capabilities even beyond what Congress intends. But that is still less than 1% of its overall operations budget.

"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.

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