Trump administration diverted $10 million in FEMA funding to ICE, documents show


Documents released Tuesday by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, appear to show that the Trump administration diverted nearly $10 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the summer, as the 2018 hurricane season was getting underway, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

The funding shift was documented in a 39-page budget document released Tuesday to several news outlets. The document showed that $9.8 million earmarked for FEMA was redirected, in part to support “adult detention beds and transportation removal programs” under ICE.

The document is not dated, but Merkley told MSNBC, who first reported on the documents, that he believed the transfer was made over the summer. CNN reported that House lawmakers learned about the funding reallocation in late July.

>> Tracking Hurricane Florence: Live updates from the Carolinas

“This is a scandal,” Merkley said in a statement released to The Washington Post. “At the start of hurricane season – when American citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still suffering from FEMA’s inadequate recovery efforts – the administration transferred millions of dollars away from FEMA. And for what? To implement their profoundly misguided ‘zero tolerance’ policy.”

>> Trump's 'zero tolerance' immigration policy: 4 things to know

The Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy spurred debate and public outrage over the summer after it was used to justify migrant family separations on the U.S.-Mexico border. President Donald Trump ended migrant family separations with an executive order signed in June.

>> Trump ends migrant family separations: Read the executive order

The documents released Tuesday show the $10 million transfer to ICE comprised about 1 percent of FEMA’s $1 billion budget. The money did not come from funds earmarked for relief efforts, according to Tyler Houlton, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE.

>> Hurricane Florence: Those who have lived through storms offer their advice

“Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts,” Houlton wrote on Twitter after the documents were released. “This is 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.”

He argued that the funds could not have been spent on hurricane response efforts because of appropriation limits.

Former FEMA and DHS officials told the Post, however, that the distinction between “hurricane response” and other efforts was irrelevant because the money goes toward the agency’s storm preparedness efforts.

“Anyone who knows FEMA knows it’s parsing words,” Moira Whelan, a former chief of staff in the Office of Gulf Coast Rebuilding at Homeland Security’s National Joint Information Center, told The Post.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation World

Strip club closed after food stamps used to buy lap dances, drugs, investigators say
Strip club closed after food stamps used to buy lap dances, drugs, investigators say

The Ohio Liquor Control Commission revoked the liquor permit of Sharkey’s bar, an adult entertainment establishment, effective at the close of business Thursday, after investigators used food stamps to buy lap dances. >> Read more trending news  Agent-in-Charge Michelle Thourot said agents began investigating the Twenty Two Fifty Inc...
National Guard delivers 7,000 hot plates to residents affected by gas pipeline explosion
National Guard delivers 7,000 hot plates to residents affected by gas pipeline explosion

Merrimack Valley residents affected by last week's gas explosions and fires still don't have gas service as crews work to restore 48 miles of pipeline. Without gas service, most residents won't be able to heat their homes or cook their food. With that in mind, officials have implemented temporary solutions into their recovery plan, which includes delivering...
Man mows down nearly a dozen emus in Australian outback, video shows
Man mows down nearly a dozen emus in Australian outback, video shows

The driver has a thick mustache, black glasses and wears a hat as he delights in mowing down nearly a dozen emus at breakneck speed in the Australian outback, a video shows.  Other than that, much about the video is unknown. >> Read more trending news  The Royal Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals New South Wales shared...
Firefighters battle fully involved barn fire in Clark County
Firefighters battle fully involved barn fire in Clark County

Firefighters are on scene of a fully involved barn fire in Springfield Township. Crews responded to the fire located in the 700 block of North Bird Road Saturday around 7 p.m., according to Clark County dispatchers. There were not animals inside the barn, but it was filled with hay, said dispatch. We are working to learn more and will update this page...
Seattle moves to replace totem poles with authentic indigenous art
Seattle moves to replace totem poles with authentic indigenous art

Totem poles have become a symbol of Seattle, but it turns out they have nothing to do with the Coast Salish people of the Northwest. Now there is a growing movement to right the cultural wrongs done by well-meaning white settlers. >> Read more trending news  Totem poles from Alaska's tribes, Chief Seattle dressed in the headdress of a Great...
More Stories