Two years in, President Donald Trump’s promised immigration crackdown is hardly on pace to deliver his stated goal of deporting up to 3 million people. But it has produced something else: gaping budget holes that the administration has scrambled to fill.
A Tent Camp For The Price Of A Luxury Hotel
Perhaps the most glaring example of the wastefulness of the White House’s approach is the creation of the tent shelter for migrant children at Tornillo, Texas. The administration had the camp hastily erected in June as an emergency measure to shelter 400 unaccompanied minors and children it had separated from their families at the border. The Tornillo contract was supposed to expire in September. But as the month wound to a close, officials decided to keep the facility open to solve a new crisis of the administration’s own making.
The new crisis was triggered by the administration’s decision in May to begin fingerprinting the adult sponsors (often relatives) who sought to retrieve children the government had detained — and to share that information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Because sponsors are often unauthorized immigrants themselves and therefore reluctant to be fingerprinted by federal agencies, the outcome was predictable: More children are stuck in shelters for longer periods of time. The system, run by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, is currently housing more than 13,000 of them — about five times as many as a year ago. So instead of shutting down the Tornillo tent camp, the Trump administration is packing more children into it, with plans to hold as many as 3,800 minors.
The expected cost: $750 per night, per bed. For about the same price, the federal government could pay for a deluxe hotel room — with a view of Central Park — at Trump’s Manhattan hotel. For every month that the Trump administration locks up a single undocumented minor in the Texas desert, it pays more than the annual cost of putting a student through state college, complete with room and board.
The policy of fingerprinting sponsors and sharing that information with ICE didn’t exist when Congress approved the HHS budget. But the government is still stuck with the bill. To cover the gap, HHS reshuffled about $260 million last month from other parts of its budget, as Yahoo! News first reported. Among the losers in the battle of priorities are cancer research ($13.3 million), Head Start preschool ($16.7 million) and HIV prevention ($5.7 million).
The cruelty of Trump’s immigration policies continue. Hundreds of children remain separated from their families because of Trump’s, not-well-thought-out immigration policy. A policy that is economically hurting Americans and damaging the American brand of being the defenders of freedom, humanity, and justice.