U.S. administration transferring $405 million for border operations

WASHINGTON Fri Aug 1, 2014 10:46pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Department of Homeland Security notified Congress on Friday that it will transfer $405 million from other programs to deal with an immigration crisis on the southwestern border, a senior administration official said.

Congress left for a five-week recess without wrapping up an emergency spending bill to address the explosion of child migrants in the U.S. Southwest, where 57,000 children traveling alone have tried to enter the United States from Central America this year.

Administration officials have warned that without additional funds, operations of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to address the crisis could run out in mid-August and those of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in mid-September.

Activities such as facilities for detaining adults with children and the processing of claims would have to be suspended absent new funding, the official said.

The bulk of the transfer - about $270 million - will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund. An additional $30 million will come from the Coast Guard, the official said.

The Customs and Border Patrol agency will move $70.5 million from other activities to meet increased demands from the border situation.

The transfer of funds is known as "reprogramming" and can be carried out by the Obama administration without legislation.

"This is an unfortunate situation that they find themselves in," the official said. "Other important and high priority activities within the agency are going to be compromised."

The funding transfer is expected to sustain operations through to the end of the fiscal year, the official said.

President Barack Obama asked Congress for $3.7 billion to tackle the crisis. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives late on Friday approved legislation that would provide $694 million in additional funding for border security and to care for children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who have flooded over the border in recent months.

However, that bill has virtually no chance of becoming law, as the U.S. Senate is likely to ignore them after failing to advance its own $2.7 billion border funding measure.

(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Ken Wills)

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