As the Department of Health and Human Services migrant shelters near capacity, the Trump administration announced it will start taking from health programs to pay for additional housing to shelter the “overwhelming number” of migrant children.
Secretary Alex Azar wrote in a letter to Congressional appropriates that it will reallocate up to $385 million from health programs in order to increase shelter capacity for unaccompanied children crossing the border as well as families that look to Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) for shelter, food and other resources until American sponsors are found, The Hill reported.
Funding will mostly come from the Administration for Children and Families, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health, The Hill reported, which are all unobligated funds (assigned by Congress and not yet used by each department), a spokesperson for HHS said.
Of the $385 million, $286 million will come from programs such as Head Start, Alzheimer’s care and cancer prevention. Azar also said $99 million will come from within the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
HHS, under the Trump administration, reallocated billions in funding last year to increase shelter capacity, while the Obama administration reprogrammed millions in funding to deal with immigration at the border during President Obama’s term. So this sort of thing isn’t new, but Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee’s health panel, said the Trump administration is taking said money from vital programs only to fund a failed policy.
“We cannot continue to spend taxpayer dollars on the President’s manufactured crisis at the border, which is government-sanctioned child abuse,” DeLauro said in a statement.