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Trump Administration Shifts Millions from Disaster Relief to Border

Michael Rainey

The Trump administration plans to use at least $155 million in disaster relief funds allocated to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for immigration detention and processing facilities on the border with Mexico, according to a report Tuesday from Julia Ainsley and Frank Thorp of NBC News.

The Department of Homeland Security has informed Congress that it plans to reprogram $271 million to support activities at the border, which includes the FEMA funds that will be transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. DHS will also shift $116 million previously allocated to the Coast Guard to ICE in order to pay for an additional 6,800 beds for detainees. 

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), chair of the House Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee, said she opposed the reprogramming of funds. “I object to the use of funds for that purpose because the Department has provided no substantiation for a claim that this transfer is necessary due to ‘extraordinary circumstances that imminently threaten the safety of human life or the protection of property,’” Roybal-Allard said in a letter, referring to rules that govern the reprogramming of funds. 

The shift comes as a tropical storm threatens Puerto Rico and hurricane season kicks into high gear. President Trump commented on the approaching storm Tuesday, tweeting, “Wow! Yet another big storm heading to Puerto Rico. Will it ever end?” Trump also falsely claimed that “Congress approved 92 Billion Dollars for Puerto Rico last year, an all time record of its kind for ‘anywhere.’” In fact, Congress allocated about $42 billion to the island, and only about $14 billion has been spent, according to The Washington Post.

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