"The money in question - transferred to ICE from FEMA's routine operating expenses - could not have been used for hurricane response due to appropriation limitations", Houlton said.
With Hurricane Florence baring down on the Carolina coasts there is now controversy over the transfer of $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Post reported that ICE officials said in their funding request that they expect to deport more than 253,000 immigrants in the next fiscal year, which would be the highest target for the agency since 2014.
Merkely said he believes the budgeting reallocation happened in response to the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy, which was rolled out earlier this year.
He based his claim on a 39-page Department of Homeland Security transfer and reprogramming report dated August 31.
The "response and recovery" category contains about 21 percent of FEMA's operations budget- about $223 million - does non-public a more instruct characteristic in paying for catastrophe efforts.
The documents showed that the Department of Homeland Security had altogether shifted more than $200 million from other accounts into immigration enforcement, according to The New York Times. "It has been no secret that President Trump's obsession with his wall, mass deportation and indiscriminate detention of children comes at a hefty price.and now our Eastern Coast is left even more vulnerable in the path of Hurricane Florence". It shows the money came from FEMA's operational account. "DHS/FEMA stand fiscally and operationally ready to support current and future response and recovery needs", Tyler Q. Houlton wrote on Twitter.
But Homeland Security officials said the funds were in savings and would have been lost had they not been transferred before the fiscal year ended September 30. Homeland Security officials said the account supports FEMA headquarters operational expenses and can not be used for disaster response.
Florence was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday and was packing deadly winds of 130 miles per hour, but it is expected to strengthen and turn into "an extremely unsafe major hurricane" on Thursday night before making landfall.
The cuts to FEMA will "curtail training, travel, public engagement sessions, IT security support and infrastructure maintenance, and IT investments in the legacy grants systems for transition to the Grants Management Modernization Program".
FEMA and ICE both belong to the Department of Homeland Security. Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for North Carolina's Outer Banks, as well as the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, reports ABC affiliate WTVD. One of the things that we're actually working on right now with members of Congress is to get them to change that.
Merkley's staff has also noted that $10 million could make a big difference to people coping with hurricanes and disasters. He also used the occasion to trumpet as an "incredible, unsung success" his administration's response to Hurricane Maria, which caused almost 3,000 deaths on Puerto Rico, a USA territory already badly damaged by Hurricane Irma weeks earlier.