By Molly Pigot
President Trump has made it clear since the beginning of his campaign that he would crack down on immigration policy in the United States. Recent budgeting decisions have reflected how the Trump Administration is set on following through on those promises.
The Department of Health and Human Services, the department which oversees those who are detained, is planning on moving $266 million from other programs into funding the detention centers.
What are detention centers?
Detention centers are the facilities in which undocumented immigrants are held to be prosecuted for entering the United States illegally. According to the Global Detention Project, there are about 30,000 people in these centers per day.
These detention centers, located all over the United States, cost about $133.99 per adult per day and $319 per family per day. Because of this high cost and the increasing number of immigrants being detained, the government has been scrambling to find funding for this program.
Another major contribution to the increased need for funding has been the implementation of a “Zero Tolerance” policy. This policy, announced by Jeff Sessions, Attorney General of the United States, on April 6, 2018, is a strict enforcement of prosecuting those who enter the United States illegally. This policy has caused thousands of children to be separated from their parents and taken into the custody of HHS.
All of these factors combined have caused the federal spending on detention centers to skyrocket, which is why the HHS is needing to budget for more money.
The Trump Administration is taking money from Head Start ($16.7 million), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ($16.7 million), the National Cancer Institute ($13.3 million), the National Institutes of Heath ($87.3 million), and other programs.
Why do budgeting negotiations like this happen?
Budgeting negotiations like this are not uncommon. The federal government is constantly moving money around to areas they feel need it.
An example of another major budgeting negotiation that was just finalized was the decision to give the U.S. military $716 billion for 2019. This was a budgeting decision passed by the Senate and, in modern American history, it is considered one of the largest budgets for defense.
What does this mean?
The Trump Administration is prioritizing the enforcement of immigration policy over other beneficial programs. This is a reflection of how one of the Trump Administration’s main concerns is their immigration policy.
This also means that the Trump Administration is not backing down from enforcing their immigration policy. They most likely wouldn’t be putting so much money into the detention centers if they were planning on abandoning the program in six months. If anything, they will most likely use the money to enforce the “Zero Tolerance” policy even more and to expand these detention centers.
Why should voters care?
Although one might not realize this, voters actually have a voice in how decisions like this are made. Voters can prevent events similar to this from happening by voting in the November midterms.
This budgeting decision was made by Alex Azar, the secretary of the HHS who was approved to this position by the Senate. The November midterms are when the people vote for politicians from their state to be elected to the Senate. By voting for potential senators who reflect voters’ views, the beliefs of the people are better represented in the federal government.
What can be done to prevent this from happening in the future?
The most impactful action any one person can take is voting in the upcoming election on Nov. 6. Voting lets the government know what the people want, and it is the best way to get peoples’ voices heard. If possible, go out and vote to make your voice heard!