Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

FEMA warns about hurricane as D.C

FEMA warns about hurricane as D.C

CNN received a copy of the document from Merkley's office.

The document also shows the amount transferred from FEMA to ICE is is less than 1% of FEMA's overall budget. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who first shared the documents live on MSNBC late Tuesday.

Merkely said he believes the budgeting reallocation happened in response to the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy, which was rolled out earlier this year.

"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", Merkley added.

It is estimated that Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm, had total costs of $125 billion while Hurricane Irma had costs of $50 billion and Hurricane Maria cost $90 billion, according to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"We'll handle it", Trump said in a video posted on his Twitter account on Wednesday.

The deal would keep the government open using a series of spending bills, including a "continuing resolution" that would fund federal agencies through December 7.

The memorandum sheds light on the immigration-enforcement operations enhanced by the FEMA funds.

Without the transfer of funds, the document notes, 'ICE will not be able to fulfill its adult detention requirements in FY 2018'.

Insufficient funding could require ICE to "release any new book-ins and illegal border violators", and prevent ICE from deporting those who have violated immigration laws, the document reads. It just needs to get permission from the relevant appropriations subcommittee chairs in the House and Senate.

But Merkley did concede that the transfer of funds was legal. But officials and advocates say the request is a sign that the Trump administration is forging ahead with his hard-line immigration platform and will use it to rally support for Republican candidates in the November midterm elections. He also suggested that the financial pressure was linked to this month's announcement by the administration of new regulations created to enable expanded detention of families who cross into the USA without legal status.

"FEMA will curtail training, travel, public engagement sessions, IT security support and infrastructure maintenance, and IT investments in the legacy grants systems for transition to the Grants Management Modernization Program", the document reads.

Houlton said the $10 million was taken from FEMA's "routine operating accounts" and was money that could not be used for disaster relief.

The hearing titled, "Evaluating Federal Disaster Response and Recovery Efforts", would have reviewed FEMA's response to natural disaster.

Long said the money transfer cited by Merkley had nothing to do with current efforts to prepare for Florence and doesn't come from his agency's disaster relief fund.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, shared documents detailing the transfer on MSNBC Tuesday night, as Hurricane Florence bore down on the North and SC coasts.

As a potentially catastrophic hurricane bears down on the East Coast of the United States, the shifting of $10 million from FEMA's operating budget to fund immigration detention and deportations is drawing condemnation from Democrats. That includes staff, meetings and exercises, he said - all crucial to readiness for the next hurricane season.

FEMA said the biggest danger was the storm surge - a wall of water from the sea which could reach 20ft high.

Long said, however, that right now he is focused on the incoming hurricane.

Political winds are again swirling around FEMA as the organization races to get ready for Hurricane Florence and what's expected to be a major recovery effort after it makes landfall.

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