The Trump administration has begun cutting services for unaccompanied migrant children staying at federal shelters across the country. The Office of Refugee Resettlement started discontinuing funding for activities, including English classes, recreational programs like soccer, as well as legal aid. The administration said the cutbacks are due to budget pressures caused by the influx of immigrants at the Mexican border. The discontinued services were deemed “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety,” Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Mark Weber said. The move could violate a federal court settlement and state requirements that mandate education and recreation for minors in federal custody.
Federal officials say they are facing “a dramatic spike” in unaccompanied minors at the border, and have asked lawmakers for $2.9 billion in emergency funding to meet demand. More than 40,800 unaccompanied children have been placed into federal custody after crossing the southern U.S. border this year, a 57 percent increase from last year. The program could run out of money at the end of June, and the agency is legally obligated to direct funding to essential services, Weber said.