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Trump official says US is running out of money to shelter migrant kids

Shannon Pettypiece, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government may run out of money in July to shelter migrant children apprehended as they cross the southern border with Mexico, said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

"We are full," he told reporters after a meeting at the White House on Monday. "We do not have capacity for more of these unaccompanied children to come across the border.

"At some point in early July we are probably going to be out of money," Azar said. "This isn't political; this isn't about immigration."

Azar's department is responsible for managing a network of privately run shelters for migrant children apprehended by U.S. immigration authorities. The number of children in the government's care has grown thanks to a surge of migrants at the southern border. Customs and Border Protection says it's apprehended more than 56,000 children unaccompanied by their parents or other caregivers at the border since October.

HHS says it received about 49,000 children from immigration authorities in the entire 2018 fiscal year, which ended in September.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill last week that would provide $4.6 billion in emergency money the Trump administration has sought to deal with the migration surge. The full Senate will vote on the bill this week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said.

The House will vote on its own version of the legislation this week. A conference committee would be required to reconcile differences between the bills, and it's unlikely that panel could complete the work by Thursday, when Congress is scheduled to leave for a two-week July 4 recess.

 

If the program isn't funded, Azar said a situation akin to a government shutdown would result, with workers and companies caring for the children without pay. He said some companies might choose to leave the program if that happens, putting a further strain on resources.

(Erik Wasson contributed to this report.)

(c)2019 Bloomberg News

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