The Department of Health and Human Services is diverting millions of dollars from HIV/AIDS and cancer programs to pay for housing the record number of immigrant children in federal custody. In a letter to Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) obtained by Yahoo News, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said he would reallocate a maximum of $266 million in the current fiscal year to the Unaccompanied Alien Children program within the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Close to $80 million will be reallocated within the ORR programs, but HHS will also be taking $16.7 million from Head Start, $5.7 million from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, and $13.3 million from the National Cancer Institute. Other funds will be taken from “programs dedicated to mental and maternal health, women’s shelters and substance abuse.” Azar wrote that it is taking longer for the agency to safely release children from federal care, and HHS is “preparing for the trend of high capacity to continue.” Yahoo News reports 13,312 children are now in federal custody, with ORR shelters at 92 percent capacity. There are a record 12,800 migrant children in government custody, and a tent camp for migrant children will triple in size to house the growing number.
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