Trump Plans to Divert Nearly $200 Million From Health Programs to Child Detention
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by Causes | 9.24.18
What’s the story?
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notified Congress on Wednesday that it plans to transfer up to $186 million from its programs to help cover the costs of housing a growing number of immigrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
- Around 12,800 migrant children are currently detained in federal detention centers.
Which HHS divisions would be affected?
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would lose $16.7 million.
- Medicare and Medicaid programs would lose $9.8 million.
- The National Institutes of Health would lose $87.3 million.
- HHS also plans to divert $80 million from refugee programs.
What are both sides saying?
- “Separating children from their parents at the border unnecessarily, coupled with proposed changes in policy to detain families indefinitely, all have long-term costs and consequences,” said Emily Holubowich, executive director of the Coalition for Health Funding. She added:
“This situation is particularly concerning because there doesn’t seem to be a plan to deal with those long-term costs, and tapping already underfunded public health programs is not a solution."
- HHS Secretary Alex Azar defended the transfer, telling reporters the cuts come from across the board and won’t affect programs aimed at combating the opioid epidemic.
"It's not disruptive to the programs. This is very consistent with past practices with end of the year funding," Azar said.
- Azar blamed the “broken immigration system” for his agency’s need to transfer funds.
- "The simple fact is, we at HHS do not control the number of children who come into the country and are referred to us. It [funding] is not appropriated on a per-child basis ... so sometimes this is necessary,” Azar said.
Why are so many children in custody?
- In June, the Trump administration implemented a new rule that requires sponsors to be fingerprinted before picking up children, and the information is shared with immigration officials.
- Between July and September, ICE arrested 41 people who came forward as potential sponsors of unauthorized immigrant children. While some have come forward and been arrested, many are too afraid to claim kids.
What do you think?
Do you support the Trump administration redirecting funds for child detention? Should ICE arrest unauthorized immigrants who come forward to care for migrant children? What should be U.S. immigration policy? Hit Take Action and tell you reps.
(Photo Credit: @MiFamiliaVota via Twitter)
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