As Hurricane Florence gets closer and closer to the Carolina coast, documents have come forward showing that the Trump administration transferred nearly $10 million away from the agency that responds to disasters and emergencies and redirected it toward the agency at the forefront of the president’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) released a document Tuesday showing a transfer of nearly $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“This is a scandal,” Merkley said in a statement. “At the start of hurricane season — when American citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still suffering from FEMA’s inadequate recovery efforts — the administration transferred millions of dollars away from FEMA. And for what? To implement their profoundly misguided ‘zero-tolerance’ policy. It wasn’t enough to rip thousands of children out of the arms of their parents — the administration chose to partly pay for this horrific program by taking away from the ability to respond to damage from this year’s upcoming and potentially devastating hurricane season.”
Officials from FEMA today insisted that the transfer of nearly $10 million of its budget to ICE will not affect the agency’s hurricane response and other disaster relief efforts.
“We have plenty of resources, both monetary, staff and commodities, to respond to the storm,” Jeff Byard, FEMA’s associate administrator for the Office and Response and Recovery, told reporters during a morning briefing. “We have plenty of resources to respond, plenty of resources to recover. That has not impacted our situation whatsoever.”
Starting on Thursday and going through the weekend, Hurricane Florence, centered on the Carolinas, is expected to be particularly dangerous carrying sustained winds of up to 125 mph, putting millions of people at risk and threatening billions of dollars in property damage.