Frontera Fund News Trump Watch

The High Cost of Trump’s Family Separation Policy and Where the Money is Coming From

Written by Carmen Cornejo

Unfortunately, Trump supporters do not care about the breathtaking violation of human rights caused by their president when, taking ill advice from Stephen Miller, he decided to separate families at the border.

On social media, many cheered this decision, and others compared the horrendous conditions of warehousing migrant children to summer camps.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Never mind that requesting asylum is a right recognized by the law and that many families were following the process.

Trump supporters’ hearts are not moved by the stories of horror and violence hundreds of individuals are experiencing in Central America that force them to flee in search of opportunity in the U.S.

Let’s be blunt: The unprecedented policy of separating children – some as young as 3 months old – from their parents is based on hatred more than rational solutions, and it has resulted in a worldwide condemnation and a cascade of outrageous costs.

Yes, misguided policies cost a lot of dough.

The family separation policy was implemented without a concrete plan to cover costs or comply with child welfare laws, and without considering a reunification process, now mandated by the courts.

Now let’s talk about the costs.

According to media reports, it costs $775 DAILY to take care of each child in inadequate facilities. At this rate, it would be cheaper to lodge these children in expensive hotels or take them to Disneyland.

Recent estimates have placed the cost of housing separated children at $1.5 million per day.

Defense contractors such as General Dynamics (a massive conglomerate that builds jets, tanks, submarines, etc.) or MVM are in charge of managing the bureaucracy or caring for migrant children and are raking in millions of dollars. General Dynamics is advertising jobs to care for children, while MVM was caught warehousing minors in inadequate facilities, as we found out here in Phoenix, thanks to Aura Bogado’s fearless reporting.

Additionally, the Trump administration has paid more than $450 million to the not-for-profit Southwest Key Programs to do the same. Since all nonprofits’ I-90s are public records, it was not difficult for reporters to find out that Southwest Key’s CEO, Juan Sanchez, gets paid $1.5 million for taking these government contracts.

But where does the money come from?

From defunding government programs that benefit U.S. citizens.

To cover the cost of this horrific artificial crisis, the Trump administration is ransacking the funds of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), defunding programs for medical research,  rural health programs, and health emergency programs.

According to the blog Immigration Impact, President Trump has “burned through $40 million in HHS funds within the last two months.” Some of these funds are coming from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, which covers costs for individuals living with HIV.

Officials are reportedly preparing to shift more than $200 million in additional funds from the health agency, as they anticipate complications with family separation policy and increased logistical costs during the reunification process.

The implications of this plundering of funds are terrifying. Health advocates warn that HHS will be less prepared to face a public health emergency crisis such as an Ebola outbreak, Zika, AIDS etc. if the funding is not there. Emily Holubowich, Executive Director of the Coalition for Health Funding, said: “We should not be taking discretionary funding away from programs that need it.”

Not to be alarmist, but if you watched the movie Contagion, you know that preserving the funds in HHS programs should be important.