The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) transferred nearly $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this summer, documents released Tuesday night show. The news comes as Hurricane Florence strengthened near parts of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) released the documents detailing the agency’s funding redirections for fiscal year 2018. The report was first made public by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
“Just as hurricane season is starting, because it generally starts June 1, the administration is working hard to find funds for additional detention camps,” Merkley said. “So $10 million comes out of FEMA when we’re facing a hurricane season knowing what happened last year.”
The diverted funds, totaling $33.1 million, from several agencies “will provide funding in support of higher priority detention and removal requirements than those for which originally appropriated,” according to the documents.
The DHS confirmed to Maddow that the budget transfer did happen, but no funds came from the disaster response and recovery money.
However, Merkley disputed that claim, citing a chart in the budget document showing where the transfer money came from.
“It says that money came from Response and Recovery right on it,” Merkel reportedly said. “I would dispute the statement that this has no bearing on addressing the challenges from hurricanes.”
According to the New York Times, the Trump administration proposed budget cuts to FEMA in 2017, just ahead of that hurricane season. On Tuesday, the Category 4 hurricane rapidly approached the East Coast, prompting panic in the Carolinas. About 1.7 million people in three states are expected to suffer a direct hit from Hurricane Florence.
“This storm is a monster. It’s big and it’s vicious. It is an extremely, dangerous, life-threatening, historic hurricane,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said. “The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you’ve ever seen. Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don’t bet your life on riding out a monster.”
According to forecasters, Florence is expected to weaken to a Category 3 storm by landfall around Friday morning, likely in the Carolinas.
On Tuesday, Trump declared states of emergency for North and South Carolina and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid. He said the federal government is “absolutely, totally prepared” for Florence.