The Trump administration reportedly is considering using funds from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program and support for refugees to expand its policy of detaining immigrant children in shelters operated by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Ryan White is a last resort payment program to provide primary medical care and essential support services, including life-saving medication, to people living with HIV who are uninsured or underinsured. According to documents obtained by Slate, the process of transferring those funds has already begun.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, immediately called out the administration for this new initiative, which could jeopardize the health of people living with HIV/AIDS.
"This administration’s cruelty toward undocumented children and families is unconscionable," said David Stacy, HRC's director of government affairs.
"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," he said. "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."
According to Slate, there currently are about 11,800 children in ORR's care, with between 2,000 and 3,000 of those children separated from their parents at the border. The rest are unaccompanied minors who crossed the border without a parent or guardian.
But ORR is preparing for another surge in family separations that could require as many as 25,000 beds and result in a budget shortfall of $585 million in FY 2018, ending Sept. 30. That shortfall would increase to $1.3 billion in the first quarter of FY 2019, for a total shortfall of $1.9 billion through the end of 2018.
Thus, HHS has reportedly turned to the Ryan White program and plans to reallocate $79 million from programs for refugee resettlement, which could imperil social services, medical assistance and English language instructions for refugees.
The Trump administration's child separation and detention program is despicable on its own; ripping off money from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program simply doubles down on that cruelty.
How low can these people go?