The Department of Homeland Security transferred $10 million from FEMA to ICE this summer to fund more immigrant detention centers along the border, according to a report on Rachel Maddow.
On Tuesday Maddow spoke with U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, who sits on the Senate Committee on Appropriations. Merkley provided Maddow with a document showing the Trump administration planned to make the budget transfer this summer. “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.”
In 2017, for the first time in over a decade, the United States was hit with four devastating hurricanes: Irma, Harvey, Nate, and Maria. Nearly 3,000 people in Puerto Rico died as a result of the latter, thanks in large part to a slew of catastrophic bureaucratic fuck-ups on FEMA’s part, not that Trump will own up to it. According to the New York Times, the Trump administration proposed budget cuts to FEMA in 2017, just ahead of that hurricane season. And this week the East Coast is expected to suffer a direct hit from Hurricane Florence, prompting rightful panic in the Carolinas and elsewhere along the coast.
DHS confirmed to Maddow the budget transfer did in fact happen, though they insisted no funds came from the disaster response and recovery coffers. 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,” he said. “I would dispute the statement that this has no bearing on addressing the challenges from hurricanes.”
FEMA’s annual budget is about $15 billion, with around $7 billion allotted to disaster relief, so $10 million isn’t quite as hefty a chunk of change as it sounds. But $10 million for baby cages, deportations, and internment camps over $10 million for food for folks with flooded homes seems like a slight misuse of funds, though certainly Trump can swap out Bounty for the cheap paper towels.