The Trump administration announced that they are cutting English classes, legal assistance, and recreational activities for unaccompanied minors staying in federal migrant shelters, citing budget pressures.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement has begun to end funding for programs for the unaccompanied minors, according to a report by The Washington Post published Wednesday.
U.S. Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber, whose department includes the ORR, told the Washington Post that the programs being cut were “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety, including education services, legal services, and recreation.”
The decision was sent to licensed shelters by the HHS via email last week, with lawyer Carlos Holguin telling the Washington Post that the defunding move may face legal action.
“We’ll see them in court if they go through with it,” stated Holguin. “What’s next? Drinking water? Food? . . . Where are they going to stop?”
Author and Southern Baptist minister Alan Cross denounced the decision by the administration, taking to his Twitter account on Wednesday to call the situation “Beyond frustrating.”
“While Evangelicals are debating Trump’s 16 min. visit to McLean Bible Church and David Platt’s prayer, Trump’s WH cuts education and recreation to thousands of migrant children in detention. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! The total blindness is ridiculous. Intentional?” tweeted Cross.
“After a Sunday of Prayer for Trump by many Evangelicals, all education/recreation is cut for migrant kids in detention. What if all of that Evangelical access to Trump turned into us counseling him on what the Bible says about how to treat the sojourner?”
According to the Office of the Administration for Children and Families, unaccompanied minors apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security are transferred to the care of ORR.
“ORR promptly places an unaccompanied child in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interests of the child, taking into consideration danger to self, danger to the community, and risk of flight,” noted the ACF’s website.
“ORR takes into consideration the unique nature of each child’s situation and incorporates child welfare principles when making placement, clinical, case management, and release decisions that are in the best interest of the child.”
According to an HHS press release in May, ORR has received more than 32,000 referrals for unaccompanied children in Fiscal Year 2019, which is about 50 percent higher than Fiscal Year 2018.
“If this rate of referrals continues, ORR will care for the largest number of UAC in the program’s history in FY 2019,” explained HHS last month.
“HHS currently operates a network of over 168 shelters/programs in 23 states and has a proven track record of accountability and transparency for program operations, as well as being a good neighbor in the communities where shelters are located.”