FEMA chief says he would 'never intentionally run a program incorrectly'

FEMA chief says he would 'never intentionally run a program incorrectly'

Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley is exposing documents he claims shows the money going from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's fund to pay for disaster relief to support Trump's immigration policy.

The $10 million transfer came not from disaster accounts but from a pot of money at headquarters, covering employee training, travel, purchase card expenses and the like.

The budget documents, first made public by Senator Jeff Merkley (D) OR on Tuesday show the transfer would help fund immigration detention centers, and $4 million of which taken directly from FEMA's response and recovery OR preparedness and protection categories.

The budgeting document, "Department of Homeland Security FY 2018 transfer and reprogramming notifications", indicates that $9,755,303 was taken from FEMA, about 0.9 percent of the agency's listed overall budget, and given to support ICE.

The Oregon Democrat showed budget documents about the fund transfer Tuesday on the "Rachel Maddow Show". "FEMA officials have already stated that no money was transferred from disaster accounts, despite the misleading and distractive narrative being pushed".

However, the document confirms that the money would be spent on ICE's detention capacity and deportation efforts. Leahy, a Democrat who is the Senate Appropriations Committee vice chairman, said the transfer was approved by the subcommittee chairs and no Democrats signed off on it.

Funds are regularly transferred among government departments.

"Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts".

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.

"This is a scandal", Merkley said in an emailed statement to the Post.

"The lack of fiscal discipline and cavalier management of funding for detention operations, evidenced by inaccurate budget formulation and uneven execution, seems to be the result of a perception that ERO is funded by an indefinite appropriation", the statement said.

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. Since Republicans are in the majority for both the House and Senate, those lawmakers lead the committees.

Small said the request was part of a broader problem, and accused ICE of "robbing" money for themselves to expand their deportation and detention capabilities even beyond what Congress intends. "Fomenting fears against immigrants is not governing - it's demagoguery on the taxpayer's dime".

Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego told CNN following a meeting between DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on July 25 that each DHS department would be contributing toward ICE's detention activities.