"ICE could also be forced to reduce its current interior enforcement operations, curtailing criminal alien and fugitive arrests - which would pose a significant risk to public safety and national security", the document reads.
The Department of Homeland Security transferred almost $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a budget document released by a Democratic senator late Tuesday night, diverting funds from the relief agency at the start of the hurricane season that began in June.
The Department of Homeland Security pushed back against Merkley's claims on Wednesday, saying that the funds were unspent money from operational accounts for training, office supplies and headquarters costs, which can not be spent on disaster response, according to The Associated Press. He said the agency has learned from last year and will be better prepared to confront disasters this year. "This is a sorry attempt to push a false agenda at a time when the administration is focused on assisting millions on the East Coast facing a catastrophic disaster", Tyler Q. Houlton, DHS spokesman, said on Twitter on Wednesday.
Trump administration officials pushed back Wednesday against a Democratic senator's claim that almost $10 million from the government's disaster relief agency was transferred to immigration enforcement. Of the $200 million, the document says $93 million will go to immigrant detention, a 3% budget increase that will fund capacity for an additional 2,300 detainees; and $107 million for "transportation and removal", or deportations, a 29% budget increase.
The agency urged Congress last month to include the extra funds in a stopgap spending measure that lawmakers must pass to avoid a government shutdown when the new fiscal year starts October 1.
In a report issued earlier this month, the government's chief watchdog slammed the agency as being overwhelmed by a series of devastating hurricanes and other disasters, saying the agency failed to adequately house disaster victims, distribute financial assistance in a timely fashion or do enough to prevent fraud.
Past year the US dealt with multiple hurricanes making landfall and causing destruction in their wake.
Department of Homeland Security personnel deliver supplies to Santa Ana community residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico, Oct. 5, 2017. Additionally, Hurricane Harvey struck Texas in August and Hurricane Irma struck Florida in September, leaving FEMA stretched thin.More news: More than 480,000 without power in NC as Florence makes landfall
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So to say that this money was initially slated for something that isn't a lifesaving intervention doesn't mean that it couldn't have been used for that. 'I think this is probably within the law'.
CNN reached out to the DHS IG for comment and is awaiting a response.
The decision to transfer the funds came directly from the Department of Homeland Security.
The money will reportedly be used to house immigrants detained by ICE at the Mexican border. 'Ensuring adequate funding for the detention beds requires projecting an Average Daily Population (ADP) for adult detainees as well as the daily costs incurred in keeping a detainee in custody'.
"Then, once the system makes landfall, here, again, storm surge has the highest potential to kill the most amount of people", said Long.
Florence was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday and was packing deadly winds of 130 miles per hour, but it is expected to strengthen and turn into "an extremely unsafe major hurricane" on Thursday night before making landfall.
He said Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen "is confident in the leadership at FEMA and their proven disaster management ability", he said. Some areas could get deluged with 20 inches of rain.
The claim sparked an emphatic denial from Homeland Security, which said the impact on FEMA's response and recovery efforts was zero.
New data show that almost 3,000 people died as a result of the hurricane and many people continue to live without power on the island.