Trump Administration To Transfer $155 Million From FEMA To ICE
The Trump administration is pulling $271 million in funding from the Department of Homeland Security, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund, to pay for immigration detention space and temporary hearing locations for asylum-seekers who have been forced to wait in Mexico.
Earlier in the week plans for President Donald Trump’s administration to transfer money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) became public. From CNN:
“The Trump administration plans to shift at least $155 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief fund to support its policy of returning some migrants to Mexico. The Department of Homeland Security has informed Congress it will reprogram and transfer $271 million in total to its immigration enforcement agency from elsewhere in the department, including the FEMA money, according to documents obtained by CNN. The moves comes as Tropical Storm Dorian nears hurricane strength as it approaches Puerto Rico.
“Last week, the administration announced its intention to hold migrant families indefinitely, aimed at scrapping a settlement that put a 20-day limit on family detention.”
Diverting $271 Million From Department of Homeland Security
“The Trump administration is pulling $271 million in funding from the Department of Homeland Security, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund, to pay for immigration detention space and temporary hearing locations for asylum-seekers who have been forced to wait in Mexico, according to department officials and a letter sent to the agency by a California congresswoman,” said NBC News who first reported on the story.
The document highlighting the transfer of funds was recently made public.
“Resources are needed to increase immigration hearing space in conjunction with the rollout and planned expansion of the MPP program. Current courts have infrastructure capacity and security limitations that are being exceeded by the addition of MPP cases to the existing non-detained docket.”
“$155M will be transferred from the Disaster Relief Fund Base to ICE’s Custody Operations PPA to support MPP IHF. The amount is resourced from recoveries of prior year funds. As of June 2019, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has recovered $172M in this account in FY 2019; FEMA projects to recover an additional $68M by fiscal year end. As reported in the July FY 2019 DRF Monthly Report, the projected need for DRF Base-funded activities in FY 2019 is $664M. The current projected carryover balance into FY 2020 for the DRF Base is approximately $602M, which includes projected recoveries. The transfer will reduce the projected carryover balance to $447M. Absent significant new catastrophic events, DHS believes the resulting DRF Base balance is sufficient to support operational needs.”
Plan Announced With Puerto Rico Dealing With Hurricane, Other Backfires
The decision became public knowledge as Puerto Rico, while still recovering from the catastrophic Hurricane Maria, is dealing with Hurricane Dorian. Luckily, Dorian touched ground as a Category 1 storm, a far cry from Maria which landed as a Category 4.
The Trump administration has received critique for their handling of recovery on the island, including not providing enough resources to help Puerto Rico in the recovery effort.
The move is similar to a 2016 decision by the North Carolina legislature, and then-Governor Pat McCrory to divert $500 from the state’s Emergency Response and Disaster Relief fund to defend the controversial HB2 anti-transgender bathroom bill. Several months later in October 2016, Hurricane Matthew landed in North Carolina and was responsible for the deaths of at least 28 people.