Trump Officials Divert FEMA Funds to Border

Disaster relief cash pulled to pay for courtrooms
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2019 6:39 AM CDT
Feds Divert $155M in Disaster Relief Funds to Border
In this Oct. 19, 2017, photo, homes in the Cantera area of San Juan, Puerto Rico are covered with FEMA tarps.   (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti, File)

The Trump administration is shifting money from disaster relief to immigration enforcement—even with Tropical Storm Dorian threatening a direct hit on Puerto Rico. Officials confirmed Tuesday that $271 million in Homeland Security funding is being diverted to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pay for detention beds and temporary courtrooms, NBC reports. Officials say that in a move that doesn't require congressional approval, $155 million will be diverted from FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund to pay for facilities for immigration court proceedings, and another $116 million will be pulled from Coast Guard operations, aviation security, and other areas to pay for detention beds. The figures were confirmed by Sen. Jon Tester and other Democratic lawmakers, who complained that the administration hadn't provided enough justification for pulling the funds, Politico reports.

"I have grave concerns about DHS's proposed end-run around laws passed by Congress that would drain millions from agencies tasked with protecting the homeland from security threats and natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires," Tester said in a statement. President Trump, meanwhile, incorrectly tweeted Tuesday that Congress approved an "all time record" $92 billion last year to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz was among those who corrected him, ABC reports. "The president continues to express lies because the truth really does not suit him," she said. "It's not $92 billion, it is close to $42 billion." Out of the funds that were approved, she said, "it's close to between $12.6 and $14 billion that have come to Puerto Rico and still, things have not worked appropriately." The $92 billion figure was a government estimate of what Puerto Rico might need over the next 20 years. (More FEMA stories.)

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