Hurricane season is underway and a [major storm already threatens Florida and Georgia (https://www.npr.org/2019/08/27/754632077/tropical-storm-dorian-puts-puerto-rico-under-hurricane-watch) while Puerto Rico is still struggling to recover from inadequate relief efforts during Hurricane Maria. However, the Trump administration has prioritized its anti-immigrant agenda over protecting American citizens from disaster relief. On August 27th, the Department of Homeland Security announced it was reallocating $271 million in emergency funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The money, which includes $155 million from FEMA’s disaster relief fund and funding for the Coast Guard, will instead pay for additional beds in ICE detention centers.
ICE has funding to detain about 42,000 people at any given time, but the agency predicts they will have an average population of 50,000 detainees in detention by the end of September. The skyrocketing detention rates are the direct result of the Trump administration’s punitive immigration policies, including consistent denial of parole to asylum-seekers and increased detention of undocumented people with no criminal records. ICE is deliberately ignoring its congressional budgetary allocation to advance the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant ideology. Congress must strenuously oppose the theft of emergency funding to support ICE’s reign of terror.