The Center for Immigration Studies’ (CIS) Jessica Vaughn today revealed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) diverted $167 million from numerous programs to pay for the housing and care of those designated as unaccompanied alien children (UACs). With the latest border surge, HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is caring for a record number of illegal-alien minors. The shifted funds will cover just one month’s expenses, and the agency may need an additional $1-2 billion in fiscal year 2017.
In a blog, Vaughn wrote:
“An average of 255 illegal alien youths were taken into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) every day this month, according to the latest figures the agency provided to Congress. This is the largest number of illegal alien children ever in the care of the federal government. To pay for it, the agency says it will need an additional one or two billion dollars for the next year – above and beyond the $1.2 billion spent in 2016 and proposed for 2017 – depending on how many more arrive. For now, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), where ORR resides, is diverting $167 million from other programs to cover the cost of services for these new illegal arrivals through December 9, when the current continuing resolution expires.”
Vaughn says HHS diverted funds from many programs, including:
o $14 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration, including $4.5 million from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and $2 million from the Maternal and Child Health program;
o $14 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for contagious disease prevention and treatment and other critical public health programs;
o $72 million from the National Institutes of Health, for research on cancer, diabetes, drug abuse, mental health, infectious diseases and much more;
o $8 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, for treatment and prevention programs;
o $8 million from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services;
o $39 million from the Children and Families Services Program;
o $4 million from the Aging and Disability Services Programs;
o $3 million from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, including more than $1 million from the Pandemic Influenza and BioShield Fund.
Under the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, ORR is responsible for the care and placement of UACs. But under the law, alien minors are only considered to be UACs if they do not have family in the United States. Vaughn says many alien minors are brought to the border by smugglers paid by their parents, who often are living in the United States illegally. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., President-Elect Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, estimates that as many as 60 percent of surge minors do not qualify as UACs and should have been returned home.
The incoming Trump Administration will face the crisis the Obama Administration created. But in the short term, Obama’s HHS will be seeking additional funds for the UACs already in its care. The continuing resolution currently funding the government expires on December 9th so this may become an issue of contention over the next week.
Read more in Vaughn’s blog.
Updated: Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 2:30pm EST