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President Donald Trump at a briefing on Hurricane Florence in the Oval Office Tuesday. Photo: Zach Gibson /AFP/Getty Images

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported Tuesday that the Trump administration transferred $9.8 million from FEMA's budget to ICE, citing budget documents provided by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

The big picture: The slash in funding comes as the East Coast braces for Hurricane Florence, which threatens to wreak havoc within days, with two other tropical systems on the horizon. The Department of Homeland Security quickly followed up in a tweet refuting the claims, saying "The money in question — transferred to ICE from FEMA’s routine operating expenses — could not have been used for hurricane response due to appropriation limitations."

The details: Maddow said the funds may be used for additional detention camps and added that DHS did not immediately dispute the authenticity of the document. "Instead [a spokesperson] told us that the money didn't come from any of our disaster response and recovery efforts, but again, it appears that it did come from FEMA," she explained.

  • Sen. Merkley, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee said the administration has the ability to transfer funds, but it would need to inform Congress. And if the amount is over $5 million, it would have to notify the committee chair.

DHS spokesperson Tyler Houlton went on to explain, "Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts. This is a sorry attempt to push a false agenda at a time when the administration is focused on assisting millions on the East Coast facing a catastrophic disaster."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect DHS' response.

Go deeper

Salesforce rolls the dice on Slack

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Salesforce's likely acquisition of workplace messaging service Slack — not yet a done deal but widely anticipated to be announced Tuesday afternoon — represents a big gamble for everyone involved.

For Slack, challenged by competition from Microsoft, the bet is that a deeper-pocketed owner like Salesforce, with wide experience selling into large companies, will help the bottom line.

FBI stats show border cities are among the safest

Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation; Note: This table includes the eight largest communities on the U.S.-Mexico border and eight other U.S. cities similar in population size and demographics; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

U.S. communities along the Mexico border are among the safest in America, with some border cities holding crime rates well below the national average, FBI statistics show.

Why it matters: The latest crime data collected by the FBI from 2019 contradicts the narrative by President Trump and others that the U.S.-Mexico border is a "lawless" region suffering from violence and mayhem.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
2 hours ago - Science

The rise of military space powers

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nations around the world are shoring up their defensive and offensive capabilities in space — for today's wars and tomorrow's.

Why it matters: Using space as a warfighting domain opens up new avenues for technologically advanced nations to dominate their enemies. But it can also make those countries more vulnerable to attack in novel ways.

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