The Trump administration is reportedly draining money from HIV treatment programmes in order to fund child migrant detention.
Slate reports that budget documents show funding has been reallocated within the Department of Health and Human Services from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to pay for the Trump administration’s aggressive stance on child migrants, which may require thousands of people to be detained.
According to documents leaked to the outlet, funding is already being drained from the primary government programme for HIV/AIDS care in the US to fund the surge in detention work undertaken by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Slate alleges that “the process of transferring those HIV/AIDS funds has already begun”, while the department is set to seek further appropriations from Congress.
ORR documents project that 25,400 beds for minors being detained will be required by the end of the year, according to the outlet, leaving a budget shortfall of $585 million in fiscal year 2018, and $1.3 billion in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019.
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which was set up in 1990, has been funded across multiple Presidential administrations and works to “providea comprehensive system of care that includes primary medical care and essential support services for people living with HIV”.
David Stacy, the Human Rights Campaign’s Director of Government Affairs, told pinkNews: “This administration’s cruelty toward undocumented children and families has been 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.”
It has long been in the crosshairs of Vice President Mike Pence, who famously once pledged to drain funding from the programme in order to fund state-sponsored ‘gay cure’ therapy.
On a 2000 Congressional campaign website, Pence wrote: “Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus.
“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour.”