A total of $271 million is being pulled from the Department of Homeland Security, including from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Disaster Relief fund, to be used for actions at the nation's southern border, according to department officials and a letter from a California congresswoman.
The money will be used instead to pay for temporary hearing locations for asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico and for immigration detention space, reports NBC News.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would get $155 million alone from the FEMA fund, according to a letter from Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., and viewed by NBC.
The news about the allocations went to Congress as a notification, rather than a request, since the administration believes it can repurpose the funds after Congress did not approve more funding for ICE's beds in June.
Under the notification, the DHS is losing $116 million that was to go to Coast Guard operations, to fund 6,800 beds for detainees.
"We would not say this is with no risk, but we would say that we worked it in a way to . . . minimize the risk," a DHS official commented, noting the funds will be transferred immediately and will fund ICE through the end of September. "This was a must-pay bill that needed to be addressed."
It will allow ICE to detain 50,000 immigrants at one time when combined with existing funds. The numbers of undocumented migrants have dropped down to 82,049 in June, marking a decline from more than 144,000 in May. That is still double the number who came across the border in the same month in 2018.
The $155 million coming from FEMA was originally allocated in 2007 and 2008 and would have been used for response to natural disasters.
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