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14 September 2018, 07:51 | Devin Moran
Chris Kleponis ZUMA Press NewscomWhere the Department of Homeland Security puts its resources
"The Trump administration appears to have diverted almost $10 million in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency at the forefront of the president's zero-tolerance immigration policy that led to the separation of hundreds of children, some as young as 18 months, from their parents", the Postreported.
Money was also taken from other agencies, such as Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, and given to ICE as part of a $201.88 million shift in money to pay for immigration detention facilities.
"Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts", Houlton wrote.
The document also shows that the Department of Homeland Security transferred money from accounts at Customs and Border Protection that pays for border fencing and technology.
The money transferred to ICE was a small percentage of FEMA's overall budget but not related to its disaster relief funding budget. In Puerto Rico, where the estimated death toll from Hurricane Maria has ranged as high as 5,000, the Government Accountability Office said the agency's poor response was compounded by a failure to deploy enough qualified staff.
Merkley says the money was for an expansion including "more detention centers".
The top Democratic senator on the Appropriations Committee, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, blasted the transfer of funds Wednesday, saying "our eastern coast is left even more vulnerable" as a result.
Both FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to requests from USA TODAY.
But while FEMA officials issued dire warnings about the days ahead, President Donald Trump insisted-despite what Merkley's documents show-that the White House is "sparing no expense" and is "totally prepared" for the storm.
More than one million citizens from the Carolinas and Virginia were now under mandatory evacuations he said."We can not stress the importance to our citizens that are in evacuations to heed the local and state warnings", he said, adding, "Hurricane Florence is the strongest storm to target the Carolinas and this part of our country in decades".
Merkely said he believes the budgeting reallocation happened in response to the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy, which was rolled out earlier this year.
House lawmakers were told about the decision to make the payment in late July.
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.
"I would dispute the statement that this has no bearing on addressing the challenges from hurricanes", Merkley told Maddow.
Florence is expected to approach the coast of the Carolinas on Thursday, said FEMA's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration liaison Steve Goldstein.
Congressional Democrats said that a meeting with FEMA that took a year to schedule. was canceled because of Hurricane Florence, reported Mother Jones.
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