Dear Mr. President:
As members of the California Congressional delegation, we write to condemn the recent action of your Administration to transfer $155 million dollars from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) disaster relief fund to pay for ICE detention beds and judicial hearing facilities. As you know, in the past few years we have seen devastating, record breaking natural disasters and to undercut FEMA's funding and its ability to respond at the height of fire season in California is unacceptable. Year after year California has been subject to devastating natural disasters, each larger and more deadly than the year before.
In 2017, California experienced what were, at the time, the most devastating fires in its history. Exasperated by longtime and widespread drought, the entire state felt the devastation and impact of the 2017 fire season. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, these wildfires burned nearly 1,381,405 acres in California, destroyed 9,470 structures, causing billions of dollars in damage, and, most tragically, took the lives of 47 people.
In 2018 California experienced wildfires and natural disasters that shattered the record set by 2017. 2018 became the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season ever recorded in California, with a total of 8,527 fires burning an area of 1,893,913 acres, the largest area of burned acreage recorded in a fire season, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Through both of these terrible years FEMA disaster relief funding was imperative to disaster response effort in our state.
However, our concern goes beyond California and wildfires. As Hurricane Dorian threatens the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the mainland United States it is imperative that FEMA has all the funds available to respond to dangerous and deadly disasters.
2019 will be no different than 2017 or 2018, California and the Country will experience more deadly natural disasters and wildfires in the coming month. FEMA must have all available funds in anticipation for forthcoming disasters. This is why we vehemently oppose this reprograming of funds and urge you ensure that no FEMA disaster relief funding is transferred.