Trump Claims “Billions” In Trade Tariffs While Diverting Hurricane Relief Funds For Border Detention
Department of Homeland Security plans to transfer money allocated by Congress for other purposes. Trump Claims “Billions” In Trade Tariffs While Diverting Hurricane Relief Funds For Border Detention
The Trump administration plans to use $271 million of Department of Homeland Security funds, including some designated to help hurricane-stricken areas, to detain and remove immigrants who cross the southern U.S. border illegally.
DHS plans to divert money that lawmakers had designated for other purposes at the agency to increase its capacity to handle people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, many of whom are Central Americans seeking asylum from violence in their home countries.
“Without additional funding for single adult detention beds and transportation from the U.S. Border Patrol to [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] detention facilities, ICE will not be able to support the influx of migrants from U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehensions,” DHS said in a statement on Tuesday.
The money will be diverted from funds that Senate and House lawmakers designated to the various departments in an agreement struck in February that ended a five-week partial government shutdown—the longest in U.S. history—resulting from a standoff over immigration policy.
The request comes two months after Congress approved a $4.6 billion emergency bill funding humanitarian aid for migrants at the southern border. That deal didn’t allow for any new funding of ICE detention beds.
Congress was first notified of DHS’s intention to divert funds one month ago, according to documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal. The notification period expired on Sunday, allowing the administration to move forward, DHS said.
Diverting funds appropriated by Congress is permitted only in extraordinary circumstances. Democrats disagree that the situation at the border gives the administration power to do so.
“Once again, DHS has ignored the negotiated agreement with Congress by vastly exceeding the amount appropriated for immigration enforcement and removal operations,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D., Calif.), the Homeland Security Subcommittee chairwoman.
DHS is seeking to increase the number of detention beds to 49,661, which is 6,886 more than the level that Congress agreed to in February. The number of detention beds shapes immigration policy because it allows ICE to hold more people, rather than release them to appear in court later.
The announcement that DHS plans to transfer $155 million from the fund used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to respond to hurricanes and natural disasters came as Tropical Storm Dorian was strengthening as it approached Puerto Rico. President Trump, a Republican, has been critical of the money that Congress has allocated to help the island, which is still recovering from damage caused by a hurricane in 2017.
“Wow! Yet another big storm heading to Puerto Rico. Will it ever end?” Mr. Trump tweeted.
The document DHS sent to Congress said the funds that DHS intends to use were carried over from prior years and “absent significant new catastrophic events, DHS believes the resulting DRF Base balance is sufficient.”
Separately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services confirmed this week that its authority over requests from unauthorized immigrants to temporarily remain in the country for life-saving medical treatment or other urgent family reasons will transfer to ICE.
The program, known as deferred action, permits migrants to defer deportation for up to two years at a time. Most people covered by the program came to the U.S. legally on a visa or other legal status and have requested to stay longer. The government said it receives about a thousand such requests a year, but all pending requests except those from military applicants will be denied going forward.
“This does not mean the end of deferred action,” a USCIS spokeswoman said in a statement.
The change took effect this month, but the government didn’t announce it until several immigrants receiving medical attention were unexpectedly denied requests to remain in the country.
Immigrant-rights activists said the transfer of the authority to an enforcement agency is designed to have a chilling effect. “We think this shift will deter hundreds of children from coming forward each year and seeking life-saving protection,” said Jason Boyd, policy counsel for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Trump Claims “Billions” In,Trump Claims “Billions” In,Trump Claims “Billions” In