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Thursday, September 16, 2021

HHS diverting hundreds of thousands in funding marked for vaccine efforts to housing migrant youngsters

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FIRST ON FOX: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has notified Congress that it’s going to switch a further $589 million, a few of which comes from funding COVID-19 vaccination efforts, to its applications to shelter unaccompanied migrant youngsters who’ve entered the U.S. on the southern border — a part of greater than $4 billion that has been diverted to this system this yr.

HHS knowledgeable Congress that it’s diverting $225 million in Nationwide Institute of Well being (NIH) funding that was a part of the December COVID-19 aid invoice to the unaccompanied youngsters (UAC) program, in addition to $364 million in HHS funding that was handed as a part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP), a congressional supply instructed Fox Information. Knowledge shared with Fox Information confirms that supply’s account.

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Of the ARP funding, $187.5 million had been marked for the Facilities for Illness Management for “vaccine planning, distribution, monitoring and monitoring” and a further $25 million for “vaccine confidence actions.” In the meantime $151 million of the diverted funding had been tagged for the “Provide Chain for Vaccines, Therapeutics and Medical Provides.”

The Biden administration has been going through a surge in migration on the southern border, which shortly changed into a full-blown border disaster with pictures of migrants packed into services throughout the border. The Biden administration has centered on getting unaccompanied youngsters out of Border Patrol custody and into HHS care — earlier than they’re united with sponsors, usually a guardian or mother or father already within the nation.

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The variety of unaccompanied youngsters coming to the border elevated 24% between June and July — with 18,962 encounters in July in comparison with 15,234 in June. It means Customs and Border Safety (CBP) has been encountering a median of 1,363 a day. There are at present greater than 14,000 youngsters and youngsters in HHS custody.

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HHS instructed Fox Information that the quantities being transferred weren’t deliberate for any ongoing vaccine actions, and that they subsequently no influence on the administration’s vaccination efforts. A spokesperson additionally mentioned that the Trump administration had left behind an under-resourced UAC program with lower than half of the capability wanted, and didn’t activate further mattress capability in 2020 whilst numbers of unaccompanied youngsters coming to the border started to extend within the latter half of the yr.

“The Unaccompanied Kids program has lengthy relied on funding transfers to satisfy its mission, and this yr faces the extra expense of rebuilding a decimated system whereas taking pandemic-related security precautions, equivalent to testing and social distancing,” an HHS spokesperson instructed Fox Information. 

“We notified Congress on Aug. 16 of our intent to make further funds obtainable to this system to cowl pandemic-related value will increase and to make sure the continued well being and security of kids and workers, and can guarantee this switch – as with prior ones – doesn’t disrupt different HHS actions,” the spokesperson mentioned. “We additionally proceed to name on Congress to put money into long-needed programmatic reforms to lower this system’s long-standing reliance on funding transfers and cut back the time it takes to unify youngsters with households.”

The company additionally famous that it had wanted further funding for this system in 2019, when the Trump administration had sought $3 billion in further funding throughout that yr’s border disaster amongst different comparable transfers to this system, and that pandemic-related precautions added at the least an additional $2 billion in prices to this system..

The most recent switch is certainly one of a quantity which have taken place in latest months because the U.S. tries to deal with the disaster on the border.

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In keeping with the info supplied to Fox Information, $1.2 billion was transferred to this system in April, together with $850 million from the December aid supplemental. In Could, $850 million was moved from ARP funding designated for testing, tracing and COVID-19 mitigation.

In June there was $846.5 million transferred from ARP funding, and in July a further $860 million was transferred from the COVID supplemental. It implies that the whole transferred to the UAC program this yr is $4.43 billion by HHS. 

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The administration has acknowledged that the disaster on the border is a severe problem, whereas typically holding off on calling it a disaster. Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has mentioned that the administration’s plan to unravel the disaster — which features a give attention to root causes and opening authorized asylum pathways — will work however will take time.

“The extent of the problem shouldn’t be understated, however nor ought to our capability to satisfy it,” he mentioned this month.

Extra lately, the administration has centered extra on deportations — together with extending Title 42 public well being protections and flying migrants deeper into the inside who’ve been turned away through these protections.



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