Amid the ongoing border crisis, the Biden administration plans to move $860 million of funds designated for COVID relief to cover the increase in pandemic-related costs associated with the housing of illegal unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the Southwest border.
In a letter reported by Bloomberg News, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra notified members of Congress on Tuesday that the funds were to be reallocated to ensure the safety of migrant children as well as staff attending to them at shelters.
Another $1.7 billion has been added to the unaccompanied migrant children program for pandemic-related precautions, such as testing and quarantining, a Biden official told Bloomberg.
Becerra said the requirement for quarantining and social-distancing measures has substantially reduced the number of state-licensed shelter beds.
He argued that the authority to divert the funds is granted in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. He promised HHS will ensure the transfer “does not disrupt or impede planned NIH activities.”
Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California blamed the Biden administration for the surge in migrants that has accompanied the elimination of policies enacted by President Trump after the 2019 border surge.
“The open borders policies of this White House continue to devastate entire regions of the country,” Issa wrote on Twitter. “Now, the Administration is redirecting funds allocated to fight the pandemic and spending it on the flood of illegal migrants they caused and won’t stop.”
More than 170,000 illegal crossings have been recorded monthly since Biden took office.
The open borders policies of this White House continue to devastate entire regions of the country. Now, the Administration is redirecting funds allocated to fight the pandemic and spending it on the flood of illegal migrants they caused and won’t stop. https://t.co/YBuWyVFqIz
— Rep. Darrell Issa (@repdarrellissa) July 7, 2021
The Biden administration official said the unaccompanied children program relied on transferred and supplemental funding before President Biden took office. In 2019, for example, the Trump administration received nearly $3 billion in supplemental congressional funding for the unaccompanied children program in 2019.
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