Things That Matter

The Trump Administration Is Signaling That Migrant Detention Is More Important That Disaster Relief

Just as Tropical Storm Dorian continues to barrel towards Puerto Rico on Tuesday, news broke that President Trump would be pulling $271 million from disaster relief funds. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that the pulled funds will be coming from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Coast Guard in part to support President Trump’s border enforcement efforts.

Specifically, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would receive $155 million, coming from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, to help build facilities for migrant related court cases. U.S. Coast Guard operations will be losing $116 million in order to fund nearly 6,800 more beds for immigrant detainees as well as transportation and deportation needs. According to NBC News, The new allocated $271 million in funding “would allow ICE to detain nearly 50,000 immigrants at one time.” 

The previously allocated money was originally given to FEMA over 10 years ago. The funds were originally given to be used in this year’s current budget to prepare to respond to natural disasters, such as hurricanes.

Credit: @CBSNEWS / Twitter

DHS typically would have to get approval from Congress to reallocate funds from one of its agencies to another. This is because Congress appropriates each federal department’s annual budget. But instead, DHS sent a notice that said the administration has the authority to move the funds because of the “border emergency.”

“Given the rise of single adults crossing the border, ICE has already had to increase the number of detention beds above what Congress funded,” DHS said a statement. “Without additional funding for single adult detention beds and transportation from the U.S. Border Patrol to ICE detention facilities, ICE will not be able to support the influx of migrants from U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehensions.

The U.S. government has sent more than 30,000 people back to Mexico as part of it’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. This was done with efforts to have asylum seekers wait out their immigration cases and stop the influx of migrants from making the long journey to the U.S. The Trump administration also recently rolled out new policies that will allow migrant families, including those with children, to be detained indefinitely while their court cases are pending. Many speculate this is all being done to build more family detention facilities.

There has been criticism from Democrats who say the timing of these reallocated funds is a questionable move ahead of hurricane season.

Credit: @repvaldennings / Twitter

Democratic House members have already come out swiftly and strongly disagree with DHS reallocation efforts. They’ve also accused Homeland Security of going around appropriation rules without any requests from members of Congress.  

“I object to the use of funds for that purpose because the Department has provided no substantiation for a claim that this transfer is necessary due to ‘extraordinary circumstances that imminently threaten the safety of human life or the protection of property,’”  Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif said in a tweet. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, echoed a similar sentiment saying the allocated funds are crucial, especially during the incoming hurricane season.

“The Trump administration’s plan to divert money away from FEMA at the start of hurricane season to continue its efforts to separate and jail migrant families is backwards and cruel,” Schumer said in a statement. “Taking these critical funds from disaster preparedness and recovery efforts threatens lives and weakens the government’s ability to help Americans in the wake of natural disasters. Congress appropriated these funds to meet the American people’s priorities and I strongly oppose this effort to undermine our constitutional authority.”

President Trump weighed in on the pending storm but did so without mentioning the pulled $155 Million in funds. 

Credit: @realdonaldtrump / Twitter

This news comes as hurricane season quickly approaches here in the U.S. and as Hurricane Dorian is set to make landfall in Florida on Labor Day.The storm is already strengthening into a Category 1 hurricane that is leading the U.S. territory to declare a state of emergency.

On Tuesday morning, President Trump acknowledged the incoming Hurricane Dorian and lauded past relief efforts to Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Yet there was no mention of the recently pulled FEMA funds.

“Wow! Yet another big storm heading to Puerto Rico. Will it ever end?” Trump tweeted. “Congress approved 92 Billion Dollars for Puerto Rico last year, an all time record of its kind for ‘anywhere.'”

President Trump was widely criticized for a lack of urgency and preparation in retaliation to Hurricane Maria which ravaged Puerto Rico. The storm knocked out power on the island for months and killed 2,975, a number that is still being disputed.

READ: Female Indigenous Chief Confirms That Burning The Amazon Is Akin To Genocide, She’s Learning Portuguese To Speak To Brazil’s Leaders

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AOC And Chuck Schumer Announce Funeral Benefits For Covid-19 Deaths

Things That Matter

AOC And Chuck Schumer Announce Funeral Benefits For Covid-19 Deaths

More than 27 million people in the U.S. have tested positive for Covid-19 and more than 468,000 have died. The avoidable death toll has caused emotional and financial pain to hundreds of thousands of families across the country. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Chuck Schumer are teaming up to get people benefits to cover unexpected funeral costs.

Rep. AOC and Sen. Chuck Schumer are highlighting funeral benefits to reimburse the families of loved ones who died from Covid-19.

The U.S. government passed a Covid economic relief bill in December to offer some support to the struggling economy. The bill gave some relief to Americans, including $600 relief checks. The previous administration made a show of wanting $2,000 checks before allowing the $600 to go through. The Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan is fulfilling that promise by getting $1,400 checks to Americans to deliver the rest of that $2,000.

Another allocation in the package is $2 billion to reimburse people for some of the funeral costs for Covid victims. According to Bankrate, the average cost of a funeral is around $7,640. This is a tough amount of money for people to come up with without an economic crisis brought on by a pandemic.

Americans can apply for up to $7,000 in reimbursement to cover funeral costs because of Covid.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez understands the financial burden a sudden death in the family can cause. It is something that more than 400,000 families in the U.S. are dealing with as Covid continues to spread and kill thousands of people in the U.S. daily.

“I lost my Dad when I was about 18 years old, and the funeral expenses haunted and followed my family along with many other families in a similar position for years,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said at a news conference announcing the funds. “When you suddenly lose a loved one, you’re talking about an expense of four or five, seven, 10 thousand dollars.”

The benefits are retroactive to the beginning of the pandemic.

AOC is quick to respond on Twitter and confirmed that the funeral benefits are indeed retroactive to January 2020. This offers all families who lost a loved one last year to be eligible for a reimbursement of those funeral costs.

The death toll of Covid is expected to continue to climb as vaccines are rolling out and the race against variants is ongoing. Some new strains of the virus spread faster and there is still work to be done to see if they impact the effectiveness of current vaccines.

The money to cover the reimbursements has been allocated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The two New York politicians teamed up to make this possible with $260 million of those funds going to New Yorkers.

Communities of color are still facing a disproportionate share of the Covid burden.

According to a study by the American Heart Association, access to a hospital plays a big role in why communities of color are disproportionately impacted by Covid. One of the most glaring reasons for the devastation in non-white communities is that hospitals are predominately in white communities.

“Our findings suggest that in order to address disparities in the burden of COVID-19 among vulnerable patient groups, we must focus on structural reasons for the higher rates of viral transmission and hospitalizations for Black and Hispanic patients,” Dr. Fatima Rodriguez, lead author of the study, which was funded by the AHA, said in a statement.

READ: Maluma Invited Fans To A Meet And Greet But Now It’s Being Called A Covid-19 Super Spreader Event

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Rihanna Hilariously Took A Jab At Trump While Taking Out The Trash On Inauguration Day— ‘I’m just here to help’

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Rihanna Hilariously Took A Jab At Trump While Taking Out The Trash On Inauguration Day— ‘I’m just here to help’

Rihanna just proved that she’s capable of just about anything. Last week, the class act proved that she can class up even the trashiest of things. While on a walk to the curb with bags of trash the singer rocked diamonds and a pair of satin pink peep-toe heels and gloves in a pointed jab at former President Trump. 

She might be a star but Rihanna isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty when it comes to taking out the trash on behalf of President Joe Biden.

Last Wednesday, the singer and fashion designer celebrated Biden’s inauguration and Trump’s exit with a silly post on her Instagram page. Dressed in stilettos, the “Love On The Brain” singer carried two bags of garbage out to the curb with a caption that read “I’m just here to help #WeDidItJoe.”

The comment was a clear nod to Vice President Kamala Harris and President Biden’s historic win and their ultimate swearing-in last week.

Dressed in a vintage tee-shirt reading ‘End Racism By Any Means Necessary’ Rihanna threw some shade and the trash away. 

Continuing to throw shade in the caption, Rihanna added: ‘I’m just here to help.’ The singer has proven herself to be an ultimate fan of the Biden-Harris ticket. Last year when they won the election she tweeted about their win writing “The faces of history makers, boundary breakers, and WINNERS!!CONGRATULATIONS to you both, and mostly to the American people!! So much work to do, so much hurt to undo! Let’s GO! I’m so proud of you America!”

Fortunately, it looks like Rihanna is showing no signs of slowing down her celebrations this year.

On Sunday, the Savage x Fenty owner shared a video of herself dancing in a hotel room while sporting some of her own line’s lingerie.

After doing some twerks and showing off a Savage x Fenty dotted mesh skirt, and a set of matching gloves, RiRi gave fans a fun Valentine’s Day champagne toast.

“Cupid could NEVA!” she captioned her post. “#ValentinesDayCountdown.”

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