The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reportedly transferred about $170 million from different government agencies to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this year.
NBC News, citing a document sent to Congress by DHS, reported on Thursday that the funds were transferred to ICE in order to help the agency with the removal and detention of immigrants who were in the country illegally.
The money came from a variety of national security programs, including $1.8 million from the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and $9.8 million meant for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), according to NBC News.
The network reported that $29 million came from the U.S. Coast Guard, and more than $34 million was from different Transportation Security Administration (TSA) programs. In addition, DHS reportedly transferred $33 million from different ICE programs to pay for the removal and detention of migrants, meaning the total amount of funds transferred to the immigration agency was $202 million.
NBC News noted that DHS is authorized to make these kinds of fund transfers. The department is allowed to shift resources within DHS as long as it has the approval of Congress.
The total budget for DHS for this fiscal year was $65 billion, with $15.5 billion appropriated to FEMA, according to NBC News.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Tuesday released documents appearing to show DHS diverted almost $10 million from FEMA to ICE. Those documents, which were first reported by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, showed that the diverted funds totaled $33.1 million and that they would “provide funding in support of higher priority detention and removal requirements than those for which originally appropriated.”
A spokesman for DHS, Tyler Houlton, said Tuesday that the money from DHS could not have been used for this year’s hurricane preparations due to “appropriation limitations.”
“Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts. 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,” Houlton wrote.
In response to a request for comment on Thursday, DHS referred The Hill to Houlton’s remarks from Tuesday.
FEMA Administrator Brock Long has also said that none of the $10 million had come from the Disaster Relief Fund. NBC News reported that the funds were taken from the budgets for response and recovery, preparedness and protection and mission support operations – programs that are used to prepare for events such as Hurricane Florence.
President TrumpDonald John TrumpPoll: Democrat McCaskill leads Republican Hawley by 3 points in Missouri Senate race Pence cancels trip to Georgia after Hurricane Florence path changes Trump’s school safety commission will not support age limits for gun purchases: report MORE has faced scrutiny over his administration’s response to natural disasters. Last month, the death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was increased to almost 3,000.