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HHS reprogramming department funding to facilitate resettling ‘unaccompanied’ Central American teens

Conservative Review

What if I told you that our government is unintentionally completing a criminal conspiracy to deliver Central American teens from cartels and smugglers to other illegal aliens, resettling them on our dime, and sending them to our schools, all the while enriching some of the most evil organizations and nourishing the growth of MS-13 and drug traffickers?

Yesterday, HHS Secretary Alex Azar told the Senate Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which cares for and resettles unaccompanied alien children (UACs), will run out of cash before the end of the year. That is because, as Congressional Quarterly (paywall) reported in a summary of the hearing, at a pace of about 300-350 UACs arriving each day, HHS is taking custody of roughly 70-80 children from CBP each day who are not immediately released to other family members. Azar said that there are currently 12,340 mainly Central American children, in HHS custody and bed space is almost full.

We’ve been spending roughly $1.3 billion a year on this program, and Azar revealed at the hearing that the administration transferred $446 million from other HHS programs to help fund the UAC program and that it recently transferred another $385 million.

I reached out to ORR for comment and received this statement from an HHS spokesperson:

HHS is assessing the additional resources that may be needed to support this influx and sustain critical child welfare operations. Last month, Secretary Azar notified the Appropriations Committees that he would make $385 million in administrative resources available to the UAC program, $99 million in reprogrammed ORR funds and $286 million from a Secretary’s Transfer. However, HHS projections show a continued influx would exceed all current HHS resources this fiscal year. The Administration is currently working to find solutions to this potential issue.

As I’ve noted many times, almost all of the Central American teens are self-smuggled into the country to be reunited with other illegal immigrant family. That makes them ineligible for the program on two accounts – they are not victims of a “severe form of trafficking” and they are not here without relatives. In fact, we are completing the very criminal conspiracy of smuggling that the law was designed to combat. At $4,000-$8,000 per illegal alien, the cartels have made billions off this scam, so they can further ramp up their drugs to kill Americans.

As Thomas Homan, former ICE acting director, told me last week, in one operation against MS-13, 40 percent of those caught were UACs resettled through this very program designed for refugees. According to Homan, “Many that entered the U.S. were already gang members or soon became gang members after arriving in the U.S.” We’ve witnessed a spike in MS-13 growth over the past few years as a result of the influx of Central American teens in 2014. One can only imagine the degree of danger our country is in from the exponentially higher number of teens coming in under the same circumstances.

In fiscal year 2018, roughly 72 percent of the teens being held in ORR facilities were 15-17 years old, and 71 percent were males. Mark Morgan, former chief of Border Patrol, reiterated yesterday in testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee what he told me in an interview last week:

As chief of the Border Patrol, I toured the detention facilities filled to capacity with unaccompanied minors, 17 years of age or younger, who had illegally entered the country. Alone, without any parents or guardians. As I looked on, I saw both hardened young men as well as vulnerable and lost youth. With every encounter, I walked away wondering how many would be lured into joining a gang. The odds were not in their favor, as they were released into a city somewhere in the U.S., never to be heard from again.

But there is another important catch in this development. Remember how members of Congress, including a number of self-described conservatives, expressed outrage that the Trump administration reprogrammed defense funding for the quintessential defense function of border security? Well, now that HHS has reprogrammed funding from sacred federal health programs to essentially facilitate the smuggler criminal conspiracy against America and to resettle volatile illegal alien teens in our schools and communities, not a single person will protest. Funding the cartels and nourishing the growth of MS-13 while leaving taxpayers with the tab is evidently the true quintessential function of our government.

How is it that more and more of our money is being pumped into a circuitous operation that enriches evil cartels and nourishes the growth of vicious gangs without any questions? How is it that our laws say the exact opposite of this government policy, one judge even accusing the government of successfully complet[ing]” the “goal of the conspiracy” of drug smugglers at “significant expense” to taxpayers, and yet nobody stands up for we the people?

The day that our politicians begin placing the interests of America’s security and financial solvency at least on equal footing with the interests of illegal aliens and the Mexican cartels is the day we will preserve at least a modicum of representative governance.

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