Trump Prioritizes Tent Cities for Migrant Children Over Hurricane Relief

Most of the crises Donald Trump has faced in his presidency have been ones of his own making. But as Hurricane Florence heads towards the east coast of the United States, we are once again reminded that mother nature has a way of bringing them on herself. Here’s what we know about what’s coming:

The storm’s surge could be over 9 feet at peak. Hurricane-force winds will bring down trees and damage homes and businesses. Like Hurricane Harvey did in 2017, Florence is expected to slow significantly when it reaches the coast, allowing the storm to dump a catastrophic amount of rain in the Carolinas.

Florence will be in all likelihood the most intense storm to strike the region in at least 25 years, since Hugo.

Forecasts project the center of Florence to make landfall around the South and North Carolina border on Friday as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.

But it’s not just Florence.

Back when Trump was nominating his first round of appointments to cabinet positions, the theme was that his picks were generally people who had spent their careers trying to undermine the mission of the departments they were chosen to lead. It is important to know that was not the case with Brock Long, who is the current FEMA administrator.

Long was an emergency management official in Georgia, where he served as the Statewide Planner/School Safety Coordinator for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency from September 1999 to November 2001. He worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency as Hurricane Program Manager from November 2001 to January 2006. Long was the Southeast Regional Director for Beck Disaster Recovery from February 2007 to February 2008.

Long headed the Alabama Emergency Management Agency from 2008 to 2011 under Governor Bob Riley and developed the state’s response to the H1N1 influenza. During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, he was the State Incident Commander for the Alabama Unified Command.

But to demonstrate the fact that budgets are a clear indication of priorities, Sen. Jeff Merkley uncovered documents proving what really matters to Donald Trump.

The Trump administration appears to have diverted nearly $10 million in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency at the forefront of the president’s zero-tolerance immigration policy that led to the separation of hundreds of children, some as young as 18 months, from their parents.

The reallocation of public money is documented in a “Transfer and Reprogramming” notification prepared this fiscal year by the Department of Homeland Security, the parent department of ICE, as the agency is known. It was made public by Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon in an appearance Tuesday on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” as Hurricane Florence barreled toward the Carolinas.

Merkley’s office provided the 39-page budget document independently to The Washington Post. It shows that DHS requested that about $9.8 million going toward FEMA efforts such as “Preparedness and Protection” and “Response and Recovery” be funneled instead into ICE coffers, specifically underwriting “Detention Beds” and the agency’s “Transportation and Removal Program.”

That news comes right on the heels of reports that the administration is going to expand the tent city in the dessert outside of El Paso, Texas in order to accommodate the number of migrant children being swept up in their zero tolerance policy.

Given all of that we can conclude that the Trump administration prioritizes tent cities to house migrant children over hurricane preparedness and relief. I doubt there’s anything illegal about what they’ve done, but it speaks volumes about the character of the man who currently occupies the Oval Office.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.