A red ribbon at the White House for World AIDS Day in 2014 | Photo: Flickr/Ted Eytan
A new report indicates the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under Donald Trump’s administration may take HIV/AIDS funding in order to help pay to detain immigrant children.
Slate published a piece yesterday (10 July) about the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) preparing to detain more children at the US border.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy in April. This policy led to the prosecution of people who crossed the US border without authorization. Children were then separated from adult family members and placed in ORR shelters.
According to Time, the ORR has more than 11,800 children in their care. Around 100 of them are under the age of 5.
District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the government to reunite children with their family. He gave a deadline of 10 July for reuniting children under 5 and 26 July for children over 5.
According to Slate, however, the ‘ORR does not seem to be operating on the assumption that the separation policy has truly ended’ despite the judge’s order and Trump signing an executive order addressing the separations.
Where does this HIV/AIDS funding come in?
Slate obtained internal documents revealing the ORR, which is part of the HHS, is preparing for more immigrant minors crossing the border. The papers also show the agency is preparing for more family separations, but don’t know if they will happen.
By the end of the year, the ORR could need an extra 25,400 beds for these children. These extra facility needs would put the agency at a $585 million budget deficit.
In order to offset these costs, the HHS will appeal to Congress for additional aid, according to the documents.
They will also reallocate money from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.
This is a federal benefits program offering HIV-related health services. It provides help for those without sufficient health coverage and aids more than half a million people each year.
David Stacy, the Director of Government Affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, said: ‘This administration’s cruelty toward undocumented children and families is unconscionable.’
‘Now, we learn they are considering diverting funds from programs to provide health care for people living with HIV and medical support for refugees in order to pay for this president’s heartless obsession with imprisoning kids.
‘The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is one of our nation’s premier public health efforts, and it is unthinkable that this administration would divert funds away from HIV treatment to fund its cruel attacks on kids and families at the border.’
This is another sign of Trump’s administration blatantly de-prioritizing healthcare for people most in need. In May, he introduced a new gag rule affecting women and LGBTI people’s access. They also have plans to roll back an Obama-era policy prohibting healthcare discrimination against transgender people.