HHS Is Preparing to House 25,000 Migrant Kids – and Is Stealing Money from an HIV/AIDS Program to Pay for It

The Dept. of Health and Human Services is tasked with housing all the migrant children separated from their undocumented parents as part of Trump's "zero tolerance" policy. That policy may have permanently separated families – it's been revealed there was never any plan to reunite the children with their parents and siblings, and now the feds are scrambling under court orders.

While the Health and Human Services Dept., headed by Secretary Alex Azar – a former big pharmaceuticals executive – showed exactly zero planning after Trump implemented his zero tolerance policy, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is part of HHS, has acted on a disturbing premise, and shown exactly where its priorities lie.

In what Slate is describing as a "budgeting exercise," Secretary Azar's Office of Refugee Resettlement is planning for a surge in migrant children being separated from their parents. The ORR has a plan to house 25,400 migrant children by the end of the year. And it is paying for the program by gutting another: The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, according to internal Office of Refugee Resettlement documents.

"The documents," Slate reports, "indicate that HHS plans to pay for child separation by reallocating money from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which, according to its website, 'provides a comprehensive system of care that includes primary medical care and essential support services for people living with HIV who are uninsured or underinsured.' Per the documents, the process of transferring those HIV/AIDS funds has already begun."

HHS will also ask Congress for additional funds, and "plans to reallocate $79 million from programs for refugee resettlement, a move that could imperil social services, medical assistance, and English language instructions for refugees in the U.S., as well as programs for torture survivors."

ORR says it will need $1.3 billion more to house migrant children, to cover the last three months of the year – that's the entire amount allocated for all of 2018.


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