The U.S. president is planning to add fuel to the fire in his quest to keep immigrant children in detention centers by shifting a reported $260 million around to cover the costs.
CNN reports that a couple million of this amount will be pulled from cancer research and HIV/AIDS prevention programs.
President Donald Trump’s request comes as the program “has been strained by record-high levels of children in custody.” The rising numbers of children is a result of new policies that are keeping them in detention for longer and making it more and more difficult to release the children to adults on the outside, such as extended family members.
At this point, there are 13,000 children currently in the custody of U.S. Health & Human Services (HHS). That figure is “higher than the record-setting 12,800 in custody last week.”
HHS Secretary Alex Azar detailed the plan in a letter to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington and other lawmakers. The program details that “his agency is reallocating up to $186 million from other pots of HHS money and up to $80 million from refugee programs that are being little used as the administration slashes the yearly number of refugees admitted to the country.”
The Department of Homeland Security has also reallocated over $200 million this month alone to cover the costs of the immigrants in detention. This amount includes $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) September 20, 2018
The letter indicates where the money will come from.
“$16.7 million from the child benefits program Head Start, $3.8 million from HIV programs as part of a bigger $16.7 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $9.8 million from Medicare and Medicaid program operations, $2.2 million from maternal and child health programs, $5.8 million from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, $13.3 million from the National Cancer Institute and $87.3 million overall from the National Institutes of Health.”
HHS has issued a statement, saying that these types of “reprogramming requests” are not uncommon and have occurred numerous times over the past few years to fund the housing of immigrant children. Other instances which warrant the transference of funds include times of need, such as with the concerns over the Zika breakout in 2016.
The Trump administration moves $260 million from cancer research and HIV/AIDS prevention to cover the rising cost of housing immigrant children in their custody https://t.co/PmiCqcMeo4 pic.twitter.com/vFWG4q3R42
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) September 21, 2018
“HHS is utilizing the Secretary’s transfer and reprogramming authorities to provide additional funds for the care of unaccompanied alien children,” said HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan. “The funding will now likewise be used for increases in caseloads and unexpected surges in children needing care from our program. These transfers are only a temporary solution to the sad consequence of a broken immigration system.”
HHS claims that the only reallocation this year has been $17 million for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program that supports HIV/AIDS treatment for those who cannot afford to pay for it.
Federal agencies are allowed to reallocate funds, so long as they are not taking more than 1 percent of the given funds, or increasing the amount in another pot of money by more than 3 percent. These transfers must be officially requested and approved by committee chairmen.
“We support making sure ORR gets all the resources they need to help kids,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.