The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will reprogram and transfer $271 million to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from elsewhere in the department, $155 million of which will come from FEMA.
What We Know:
- The decision comes as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will now find itself down $155 million dollars approaching the impending Tropical Storm Dorian expected to reach Puerto Rico Wednesday as a hurricane. The storm is forecasted to hit Florida on Saturday as a hurricane and move through the Bahamas and other southeastern parts of the United States. DHS claims, based on historical spending, the money reallocation will not impact “ongoing long-term recovery efforts” or “operational needs.”
- DHS will use the money for detention beds and transportation and deportation. Though money will come from places other than FEMA, the money will not be drawn from the US Secret Service, the Office of the Inspector General or the Office of Intelligence and Analysis. The reallocation of funds follows a new regulation created by President Donald Trump allowing for the indefinite detention of migrant families who attempt to illegally cross the border. This decree sidesteps the existing legal process, the Flores settlement of 1997, that caps detention of migrant families in immigration jails at 20 days.
- The regulation is awaiting approval from a federal judge and is already facing challenges in court. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have sued Trump for this new detention rule; “Countless media reports detail the deplorable and inhumane conditions in which the federal government is currently holding vulnerable immigrant children who are in Customs and Border Protection custody,” the lawsuit reads. The suit specifically cites cold facilities, inadequate food and drinking water, poor medical care and toiletries and poor childcare as reasons these facilities are not appropriate for extended periods of time.
- Trump has acknowledged the issue of children in the wake of harsh criticism; the American Psychological Association criticized the trauma detention centers create for children and their creation of mental health issues. Trump said it “bothers” him that children will be caught in the crossfire, but “many people will be saved” by the overall border tightening that comes as a result of these revised detention rules.
Both the timing and nature of this budget re-allocation have caused public outrage both in fear of impending Tropical Storm Dorian and frustration for tightened border laws.