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DHS Takes Millions From FEMA, Coast Guard, TSA To Fund Border Operations


"You can't fly an airplane without fuel, and I cannot fund a massive immigration enforcement effort without money."

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson participates in a press conference discussing ongoing enforcement efforts to combat human smuggling along the Southwest border of the United States, July 22, 2014 at Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) headquarters in Washington, DC. Human smugglers charge upwards of $5,000 to $10,000 per sperson for aliens smuggled from Central or South America. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that it has taken millions of dollars from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Transportation Security Administration in order to continue funding operations on the southern U.S. border.

The Obama administration had warned Congress that failure to pass a border funding bill by August would mean DHS would run out of money, and would have to "repurpose" funding from other parts of the government in order to deal with the ongoing humanitarian crisis. That crisis involves the apprehension of 63,000 unaccompanied child immigrants, and tens of thousands of others fleeing from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has 'repurposed' hundreds of millions of dollars to keep funding operations at the southern U.S. border. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards

Over the weekend, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said he has made these decisions, after Congress left without passing a border bill.

"We are disappointed that Congress left town a week ago for its August recess and did not act last week to help us," Johnson said August 9.

"You can't fly an airplane without fuel, and I cannot fund a massive immigration enforcement effort without money," he added. "To sustain our campaign, I therefore had no choice but to re-program hundreds of millions of dollars away from other vital homeland security missions. There were no good choices."

According to a DHS spokeswoman, DHS "repurposed" $405 million from other government programs to deal with the border crisis.

First, DHS took $267.6 million from the FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund. The spokeswoman said this decision "could have a long-term impact on FEMA's ability to respond to a natural disaster."

DHS also took $31.5 million from the U.S. Coast Guard, which will force the Coast Guard to defer planned maintenance projects on some vessels.

Last, DHS took $34.7 million from TSA's screening technology and maintenance, which will defer maintenance on aviation security screening equipment.

The spokeswoman said the last $70.5 million will be taken from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which will "internally realign" that money to support work at the southern U.S. border.

Congress left for the August break without finishing work on a border funding bill. The House passed one bill that would have spent $694 million on enhanced border operations, and approved another bill that would have blocked President Barack Obama from expanding an amnesty program.

The Senate left without passing any border legislation, and it's not clear the Senate will try again once it returns in September.

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