HHS Set to Use Pandemic Funds for Unaccompanied Children

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that money originally allocated for dealing with the pandemic will be reallocated to assist with pandemic-related issues involving unaccompanied migrant children. The move will reallocate around $860 million to deal with additional costs related to helping unaccompanied children who came across the border before and during the pandemic. This is intended to help ensure their safety, and pay for additional costs for sheltering them.

The Effects of the Pandemic on the US Immigration System

While the COVID-19 pandemic has not been easy for anyone, unaccompanied migrant children have had an especially difficult time. Immigration restrictions that were imposed to curtail the spread of the coronavirus also made it much harder for anyone to cross the border, and many were forced to come alone. Adding in more complications, such as the need to test and quarantine immigrants who came into the country, meant that immigration services struggled to keep up, despite the lower overall number of immigrants.

The Pandemic and Its Effect on Unaccompanied Children

The result is that shelters designed to accommodate unaccompanied children have found themselves strained to the breaking point. After implementing social distancing procedures and allocating space for quarantining potentially infected immigrants, there was substantially less space for actually housing these children. This drove up costs as immigration services sought emergency shelters and other assistance to mitigate the strain this placed on the system.

Potential Sources of Controversy

Normally, funding for these new shelters and other measures would need to be approved by Congress. However, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra has authorized the transfer of funds from HHS under the authority granted by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. While such transfers between government agencies are not abnormal, some have raised potential objections due to how the money has been reallocated.

How the Money From HHS Will Help

    By reallocating the funds from HHS to these shelters, the hope is to make things easier for the immigration shelters that are struggling to care for unaccompanied children. However, the $860 million only covers about half of the estimated $1.7 billion that the pandemic has cost immigration services. At the very least, this money will help to protect unaccompanied children who have not received the care they deserve due to the pandemic.

For more than forty years, the Drucker Law Firm has been providing personal and quality legal services to individuals, universities, and corporations throughout the New York City and Tri-State area. We have represented three generations of clients in immigration and nationality matters, as well as personal injury, family law, criminal law, and general litigation matters. If you have a legal issue related to immigration law, please give us a call at (718) 458-1489 to schedule a consultation or visit our contact page.

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