Report: Trump Administration Is Using Federal HIV/AIDS Treatment Money to Pay for Border Family Separation

Americans with HIV may be the ones paying the price for this administration’s desire to separate immigrant children from their parents at the border.

According to a new report in Slate, internal documents obtained from the Office of Refugee Resettlement show that the agency, which was caught off guard by the Trump administration’s family separation policy, had to find a way to budget for a surge of potential immigrant minors being detained in the coming months. The budgeting exercise called for at least 25,400 beds — ORR currently has about 11,800 children in its care.

How will the agency pay to care for all these children? According to Slate, to help cover this budget shortfall of $585 million, the Department of Health and Human Services, which houses ORR, will reallocate money from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which provides essential and comprehensive care for people living with HIV who are uninsured or underinsured. According to the documents, Slate reports, the process of transferring funds away from Ryan White has already started.

The budgeting exercise doesn’t take into account a federal court decision demanding the administration reunite families separated at the border. Slate indicated that the documents do, however, take into account Trump’s June 20 executive order purportedly ending family border separations, though the budget seems to operate under the assumption that the policy hasn’t really ended.

In a tweet, California Democrat Barbara Lee called the office’s decision to transfer funds away from Ryan White programs “unacceptable on so many levels.”

“I don’t even know where to start,” she wrote.  

The decision to reallocate Ryan White HIV/AIDS funding comes after Trump’s original proposed FY18 budget cut over $800 million in funding for HIV programs domestically and abroad. Trump’s proposed 2019 budget includes millions in cuts to the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, AIDS housing programs, and the CDC’s HIV programs, according to POZ.

Trump signaled that his administration wouldn’t make HIV/AIDS a priority when he appointed Mike Pence, who was the architect of a major HIV outbreak in his home state of Indiana, as his vice president. Pence has also previously indicated that he would be in favor of rerouting federal HIV/AIDS funds away from “organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus” and into “institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior” — AKA using HIV/AIDS money to fund conversion therapy.

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