Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley announced last night that he had unearthed a never-before-seen document which clearly showed that $9.8million had been transferred from FEMA – the Federal Emergency Management Agency – to ICE, which would use the funds to continue its separation and detention of migrants.
The news was reported by political commentator Rachel Maddow live on-air at MSNBC.
In the segment she revealed that producers conducted an independent investigation to confirm the legitimacy of the document.
They were able to verify that the transfers had been made.
An official statement issued by the Department of Homeland Security then claimed that none of the money had come from FEMA's disaster relief plans; Maddow and Merkley scanned through the document live on-air to find that money specifically came from response and recovery. Merkley summarised:
I would dispute the statement that this has no bearing on addressing the challenges from hurricanes.
These findings are likely to devastate the thousands of concerned families across America's southeast coast currently preparing to weather the worst of the catastrophic storm. The National Hurricane Centre is currently warning that the impact of Florence will be threefold: alongside a “life-threatening storm surge” (a rise in the ocean level), residents will also have to contend with potential heavy flooding and brutal, hurricane-force winds.
Trump's decision to defund FEMA was reportedly made just in time for hurricane season, which officially began on June 1st.
Merkley explained on-air that it was his work on Trump's internationally-condemned child separation policy which led him to the document. The policy saw migrant children held in large cages, many of whom were forcibly separated from their families at the US southern border.
Unsurprisingly, a number of high-profile figures took to Twitter to express their disgust at the transfers.
FEMA is currently tweeting out advice to those preparing for Hurricane Florence.