FEMA Chief Under Probe for Using Official Cars

Blanche Robertson
September 14, 2018

The Trump administration this summer quietly redirected $200 million from all over the Department of Homeland Security to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, despite repeated congressional warnings of ICE's "lack of fiscal discipline" and "unsustainable" spending.

Jeff Byard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's associate administrator for response and recovery, said the important issue was that the hurricane would be a "Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast" and people had to heed evacuation orders.

The money comes from the agency's budgets for travel, training, public engagement and information technology work - not disaster relief funding, according to the official document and the Department of Homeland Security.

"Look, FEMA has shown the ability when they're led correctly to do a very good job in emergency response", Kaine said.

"ICE must have sufficient detention bed capacity to detain illegal aliens when necessary as it enforces the Nation's immigration laws as fairly and effectively as possible", the budget document states.

The decision to transfer the funds came directly from the Department of Homeland Security.

A spokesman for DHS denied any disaster relief funding was transferred to immigration enforcement.

Read Jeff Bezos' full statement about his $2 billion Day One fund
The head tax or employee tax would have applied to companies making more than $20 million annually in gross receipts. Bezos hasn't said how much he'll be contributing to the fund in coming years.

The administration says its top priority remains deporting criminals, but ICE and other immigration agencies are increasingly under fire for targeting immigrants with nocriminal records and for splitting up families at the border without a plan to reunite them.

Long addressed the IG investigation during a FEMA briefing on Thursday, saying that his office will be working with the IG's "to make improvements to make sure we are running programs and policies according to regulation".

The storm, which could hit the U.S. East Coast as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane as early as Thursday, is expected to have the greatest impact in North Carolina but parts of SC and Virginia are also in the hurricane's path. "At this time, we are fully focused on preparing for, responding to, and recovering from Hurricane Florence and the storms in the Pacific", DHS press secretary Tyler Houlton told Politico in a statement.

"It wasn't enough to rip thousands of children out of the arms of their parents", Merkley said in a statement Tuesday night.

Merkley has been a leading critic of the Trump administration's immigration policies, including the "zero tolerance" policy at the border that resulted in almost 3,000 children separated from their families.

Merkley's office said he found the reallocation concerning given last season's hurricane response, when the agency was criticized for its handling of Hurricane Maria. It just needs to get permission from the relevant appropriations subcommittee chairs in the House and Senate. That includes staff, meetings and exercises, he said - all crucial to readiness for the next hurricane season.

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