The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is reprogramming $271 million in department funding for immigration enforcement, including $155 million from FEMA disaster relief.
$116 million in funding will support additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) beds for detained migrants and transportation of migrants from Border Patrol facilities to ICE detention centers, according to a DHS press release. Another $155 million will go toward Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) hearings, referring to a program under which illegal immigrants are sent to Mexico while they await further court proceedings. This has become known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, and it was implemented by the administration in January. (RELATED: Thousands Booted Out Of US Under Trump’s ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy)
“This realignment of resources allows DHS to address ongoing border emergency crisis by alleviating the surge along the Nation’s Southwest Border while minimizing the risk to overall DHS mission performance,” DHS said in a statement.
An unnamed DHS official told CNN, “In this case, this is a must-pay bill that needed to be addressed.”
DHS informed Congress of its intent to shift the funding on Sunday, citing its authority to reprogram money under the FY 2019 DHS Appropriations Act. No funding will be reprogrammed from US Secret Service, the Office of the Inspector General, or the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, according to a CNN report.
FEMA said in a statement that the transfer of funds from its agency will not affect its ability to respond to natural disasters, noting a remaining balance of $447 million.
“This transfer of funds to support the border emergency will leave a remaining balance of $447 million in the DRF Base account. Based on DHS and FEMA’s review of historical emergency spending from the DRF Base account, this amount will be sufficient to support operational needs and will not impact ongoing long-term recovery efforts across the country. The DRF Majors account, which provides funding for ongoing recovery efforts, including those supporting communities impacted by the 2017 disasters, has a current balance of approximately $27 billion and is not impacted by the reprogramming.”
DHS previously moved $10 million in FEMA funds to ICE last year, prompting pushback from Democratic lawmakers. At the time, DHS pointed out that the funds were set to expire at the end of the fiscal year and could not be used for disaster relief before that time.
This story has been updated to include a statement from FEMA