The fund transfer was revealed in a June 30th document obtained by Merkley, a vocal critic of Trump's immigration policies who helped draw attention to the separation of families at the border. With this said, however, a DHS spokesperson says that the funds have nothing to do with disaster relief, meaning it won't impact FEMA's ability to help in the recovery of Hurricane Florence or any subsequent hurricanes.
Merkley's office provided a Homeland Security transfer and reprogramming notification document that showed the money was transferred. ICE will not be able to deport those who have violated immigration laws.
These new limitations, the department warns, "would pose a significant risk to public safety and national security by permitting known offenders to remain at large".
Advocates for immigrants urged Congress to deny the additional funding, saying ICE has been scolded by fiscal watchdogs for pastcost overruns. That funding can not be spent on disaster response, they said.
The transfer from FEMA to ICE is less than 1% of FEMA's overall budget.
Tylet Houlton, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees both agencies, dismissed criticism of the document as a "sorry attempt to push a false agenda" and said none of the money transferred came from disaster relief funding. "DHS/FEMA stand fiscally and operationally ready to support current and future response and recovery needs", Tyler Q. Houlton wrote on Twitter.
The report regarding their request comes as ICE faces increasing scrutiny regarding its role in Trump's "zero tolerance" policy that led to thousands of families being separated at the southern border.
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The Miami-based center says Florence is bringing "catastrophic" fresh water flooding over a wide area of the Carolinas. Ocean water flowed between homes and on to streets on the Outer Banks; waves crashed against wooden fishing piers.
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Byard said FEMA expected power outages, infrastructure damage and potential loss of life. It said the director now drives himself or flies back to the state. "We are going to see more storms, we're going to see fiercer storms, and so it's absolutely critical that when Congress designates these funds for hurricane preparedness, that's what they are used for".
Tillis' office later issued a statement later criticizing Merkley.
Nalepa added that Long was now focused on FEMA's work "preparing for, responding to, and recovering from Hurricane Florence and other active tropical systems". Instead, it was money from an administrative account, and there is $25.6 billion in FEMA Disaster Relief Fund.
"We have plenty of resources to respond".
"Look, we have to come in and ask for more monies for FEMA at year end because the emergencies always cause them to need more resources".
"(It's) this pattern of misbehavior by ICE where they overspend the amount they have been given by Congress, specifically for immigration detention, and then they make it up by basically robbing other accounts in DHS", Small said. "We've got the finest people I think anywhere in the world".
Many Democratic lawmakers have called for the agency to be abolished.