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STATEMENT: The Trump Administration Made a Criminally Neglectful, Morally Corrupt Decision to Divert Funds From Puerto Rico’s Reconstruction and Hurricane Preparedness for His Racist Abuse Against Immigrant Families, Say Puerto Rico and Immigration Experts

Washington, D.C. — Enrique Fernández-Toledo,director of Puerto Rico Relief and Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response to news that the Trump administration diverted nearly $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) detention program and that his administration’s FEMA has approved only 75 out of  2,431 requests for funeral assistance from victims of Hurricane Maria—all while President Donald Trump has claimed that his administration’s response to Maria was “incredibly successful.”

The Trump administration has no shame. In another example of disaster racism, President Donald Trump made a conscious decision to manipulate the budget process for his racist abuse of immigrant families. Meanwhile, the gargantuan task of rebuilding Puerto Rico and preparing the island to withstand another disaster—likely during the current and very active hurricane season—is woefully far from completion. This news came only hours after Trump claimed the response to Hurricane Maria “was an incredible, unsung success.” Trump not only disregards the overabundant evidence reported by experts, relief organizations, and the media that FEMA’s efforts fell far short, he ignored the admissions of his own FEMA director.

The administration’s inadequate, delayed, and feeble response to Hurricane Maria’s enormous devastation that resulted in almost 3,000 additional deaths was intentional. President Trump has no regard for the lives of people of color, is criminally neglectful, and is now diverting desperately needed funds for another morally corrupt and racist abuse from his administration against immigrant families

Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at CAP, added:

It is unconscionable, but not unsurprising, that the Trump administration robbed $10 million from FEMA and tens of millions more from the Coast Guard and aviation security in order to feed its anti-immigrant agenda. While American children in Puerto Rico were suffering as a result of this administration’s botched response, thousands of immigrant children were being torn away from their parents or thrown into internment camps.

Right now, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is asking Congress to appropriate even more money in fiscal year 2019 to hold thousands more people, including children, in detention camps. But if past is prologue, even if Congress were to give ICE additional funds, the agency would blow past those limits and rob other DHS agencies yet again. Congress must set this administration’s misguided priorities straight and safeguard Americans, because it’s clear the Trump administration’s recklessness has no limits.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Rafael J. Medina at rjmedina@americanprogress.org or 202.478.5313.