Hurricane Dorian is barreling toward Florida as the 2019 tropical storm season enters maturity. Now is the time every hint of a disturbance near the Gulf of Mexico has the potential to clear grocery store shelves.
As this happens, the Trump administration moved $271 million from the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund, to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement along the southern border, according to NBC News.
ICE is facing an increase in demand for resources, but this move is especially ill-timed. Congress had already approved money to meet the needs of immigration and detention efforts, but with a natural disaster primed to hit the country, the bank account for that purpose has been drained. While border security is important, this move subverts Congress’ authority to set budgets and has the potential to leave Americans vulnerable along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
A Supreme Court decision in June cleared the way for these actions. The court approved the Trump administration’s move of $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense budget for the purpose of constructing the border wall after Congress repeatedly declined to comply with Trump’s demand for millions to erect the barrier. Legal experts more qualified than us can debate that erosion of the founders’ intent to separate powers, but on its surface, it is a dangerous ruling that conflicts with precedent.
The reason budgets must go through Congress is to ensure the nation as a whole has a say in meeting the country’s priorities. The allocations then are approved or rejected by the president.
But the move circumvents Congress in this case, and puts coastal citizens in a vulnerable situation.
The administration cites a need to provide beds for an increased number of migrants on the border, a desire it expressed when Congress was determining the national budget.
“Congress has already deliberated DHS’s request and appropriated the highest-ever funding for border security and immigration enforcement, which passed on a bipartisan basis and was signed by President Trump,” said U.S. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, according to NBC News.
The move unnecessarily undercuts Congress, and pulling from FEMA specifically appears to be poorly timed, with political goals being given precedence over safeguarding the country.