White House requests additional $190M for housing detained migrant children, Dem lawmaker says

Stefani Reynolds

The Trump administration has asked for an additional $190 million to operate immigrant detention facilities, according to a top House Democratic appropriator.

“The White House has had the audacity to ask Congress for more money, even though we are done” with appropriations for the year, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told reporters on a conference call Thursday. “Over my dead body will we provide another nickel for these folks to do what they’re doing.”

DeLauro is set to become head of the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), starting in January.

{mosads}During the call with reporters, she pledged to hold the administration accountable for how much money it has spent on detaining migrants and their children.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would not say whether the administration requested an additional $190 million. Instead, a senior OMB official told The Hill in a statement that “illegal crossings at the border underscore why the President is committed to strong border enforcement to deter illegal immigration. We will continue to work with Congress to provide the necessary funding and resources to secure our borders now.”

In the HHS appropriations package signed into law earlier this year, the agency was given authority to transfer more unallocated funds from elsewhere in HHS to pay for housing migrant children, DeLauro said, adding that she opposes the policy and will be looking to rescind it next year.

“I opposed and lost that fight. So you know my view is we need to be taking back that authority,” DeLauro said.

The administration diverted almost $200 million from health programs like cancer research and HIV/AIDS prevention to fund the detention of unaccompanied migrant children who entered the country illegally.

DeLauro and other House Democrats have called on the administration to close temporary “tent cities” like the one in Tornillo, Texas.

Migrant children who illegally cross into the U.S. must be sent to a government shelter where they stay until they can be united with relatives or other sponsors while awaiting immigration court hearings.

The administration has been housing children in so-called influx shelters, like in Tornillo, which cost about three times as much as traditional shelters. They were meant to be temporary camps, but the migrant populations are growing.

“Six months in, $430 million later … the administration is making Tornillo quasi-permanent,” DeLauro said.

Updated at 6:59 p.m.

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