ICE wants extra $1 billion to fund deportations under Trump

Chris Kleponis  ZUMA Press  Newscom

Chris Kleponis ZUMA Press NewscomWhere the Department of Homeland Security puts its resources

A senior FEMA official said the agency is well positioned to respond to Hurricane Florence, despite a report that almost $10 million from the emergency management agency was transferred this summer to help boost U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, shared documents detailing the transfer on MSNBC Tuesday night, as Hurricane Florence bore down on the North and SC coasts.

Politico, citing three people familiar with the matter, said the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) was probing Long's use of official vehicles to travel between Washington and his home in North Carolina during his time as FEMA director.

The Trump administration shifted almost US$10 million (NZ$15 million) from the federal agency in charge of hurricane and natural disaster response at the start of hurricane season to help fund the enforcement of immigration policies.

Well, that didn't stop him from pulling almost $10 million from this year's FEMA budget, right at the beginning of hurricane season, to help fund ICE.

DHS records show that money transfers to ICE from FEMA and other Homeland Security agencies reduced funding for federal air marshals, screening dogs at airports, armored cars for federal investigators overseas, border security and E-Verify, which checks whether workers have legal papers.

"Look, FEMA has shown the ability when they're led correctly to do a very good job in emergency response", Kaine said.

Long, who took over a year ago shortly before Hurricane Harvey struck, said he didn't want the investigation to detract from preparations for a major storm was heading for the U.S.

The document does confirm that the money would be spent on 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.

"This is a scandal", Merkley said in a statement provided to HuffPost.

Homeland Security press secretary Tyler Houlton denied that DHS shifted disaster relief funding away from FEMA.

In the documents, it is stated FEMA "will curtail training, travel and public engagement in response to the cuts".

Congress sets funding levels for all parts of government through the appropriations process, but funding reprogramming requests like this one are authorized under the law for relatively small amounts of money within agencies.

Florence is forecast to hit the Carolinas as a Category 4 hurricane later this week, one of the strongest storms to strike the area in almost 30 years.

Merkley has been a leading critic of the Trump administration's immigration policies, including the "zero tolerance" policy at the border that resulted in almost 3,000 children separated from their families.

"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. "However, that includes things such as training", he said.

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