How does the Trump administration plan to fund its inhumane program of child detention? By reallocating grabbing money from the Ryan White HIV AIDS Program.
But wait! It gets worse!
Slate reports that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), an agency within the Administration for Children and Families, which is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, is preparing for a scenario that involves providing space for as many as 25,400 additional beds for immigrant minors by the end of this year.
At present there are just under 12,000 children under the so-called “care” of the government. Of that number, approximately 2,000 to 3,000 are children who have been ripped from the arms of their parents. The rest are unaccompanied minors who made the treacherous journey to escape threats of violence and death.
Internal documents acquired by Slate estimate that if the additional beds are needed, ORR faces a budget shortfall of $585 million by the end of FY 2018, which ends on September 30. Working with the numbers in the documents, the shortfall would increase to $1.3 billion in the first quarter of FY 2019, producing a deficit of $1.9 billion by the end of calendar year 2018.
HHS plans to ask for supplemental appropriations from Congress to offset SOME of the additional expenses. But the raid on the Ryan White HIV AIDS Program has already begun. According to its website, the program “provides a comprehensive system of care that includes primary medical care and essential support services for people living with HIV who are uninsured and underinsured.”
Here’s the wait, here’s the ‘it gets worse’ part: HHS also plans to snatch $79 million from refugee resettlement programs that fund social services, medical assistance, English language instruction for U.S. refugees and programs to aid survivors of torture.
Oh, but it gets even worse.
The documents seem to suggest that ORR is going on the assumption that the executive order signed by the Orange Scourge on June 20 to end family separation was just a 20-day pause. That means, after July 10, a date now in our rear view mirror, ORR estimates that in the next four weeks, 325 children per day will be detained. If correct, that amounts to an additional 9,100 children in custody. The four week time frame is based on the assumption that the kidnapping and detention of migrant children in the name of “keeping our country safe” will effectively deter further immigration efforts and reduce the number of children being taken into the system – even though there is no evidence to support that rationale. It didn’t slow down asylum seekers in May or June after the April announcement of zero tolerance.
Mark Greenberg is a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and led the Administration for Children and Families from 2013 to 2015. He told Slate the plans are indicative of an “enormous increase” in the number of minor immigrants who will be held in custody.
“This envisions having further family separation cases coming to HHS—a lot of them. … The entire appropriation for unaccompanied alien children this year was $1.3 billion.”
ORR is now seeking to DOUBLE that number for the last three months of this year.
Bob Carey, who served as the director of ORR in the Obama Administration, said the documents indicate that the time children are kept in custody has expanded from an average of 33 days under Obama to an average of 55 days under Trump. The reason? The Trump administration has made sponsorship more difficult by having ORR share information about potential sponsors with ICE. This policy could act as a deterrent for undocumented family members to come forward to claim children, leaving those children in the “care” of ORR for months.
“That tactic represents muddying of mission,” Carey said. “ORR shelters were not established to care for children on a long-term basis. They were set to keep kids for as short a period of time as possible until the child could be released to a parent or other sponsor. Clearly [the agency] is creeping away from that.”
Our tax dollars at work.