Biden’s Ineptitude on Migrant Crisis Threatens COVID Funding

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Joe Biden’s failure to address the migrant crisis is causing even more problems, and at this point, it is difficult to discern the true extent his administration is causing by fumbling this issue. Now, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is diverting a sizeable sum of money intended for important health initiatives to deal with the growing number of migrants at the southern border.

Politico reported:

The Department of Health and Human Services has diverted more than $2 billion meant for other health initiatives toward covering the cost of caring for unaccompanied immigrant children, as the Biden administration grapples with a record influx of migrants on the southern border.

The redirected funds include $850 million that Congress originally allocated to rebuild the nation’s Strategic National Stockpile, the emergency medical reserve strained by the Covid-19 response. Another $850 million is being taken from a pot intended to help expand coronavirus testing, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

The author added: “The reshuffling illustrates the extraordinary financial toll that sheltering more than 20,000 unaccompanied children has taken on the department so far this year.”

Politico also noted that “the $2.13 billion in diverted money exceeds the government’s annual budget for the unaccompanied children program in each of the last two fiscal years,” and that this sum is “far above the roughly half-billion dollars that the Trump administration shifted in 2018 toward sheltering a migrant child population that had swelled as a result of its strict immigration policies, including separating children from adults at the border.”

HHS is also pulling about $436 million from other health initiatives.

Mark Greenberg, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, told Politico that the department has “been in a situation of needing to very rapidly expand capacity, and emergency capacity is much more expensive.”

He added: “You can’t just say there’s going to be a waiting list or we’re going to shut off intake. There’s literally not a choice.”

In a conversation with the news site, HHS spokesperson Mark Weber said the department is working with the Office of Management and Budget to continue funding the unaccompanied minor operation.

“All options are on the table,” he explained. He stated that the department has diverted funding from areas in which funding is not immediately needed. “This program has relied, year after year, on the transfer of funds,” he noted.

However, in this instance, the funding is being taken from the Strategic National Stockpile and COVID-19 testing efforts that were touted for their importance by Health Secretary Xavier Becerra while testifying before a House panel last Wednesday.

“The fight against COVID-19 is not yet over,” Becerra insisted, while explaining the need for allocating $905 million for the stockpile. “Even as HHS works to beat this pandemic, we are also preparing for the next public health crisis.”

Now, it appears that this stockpile isn’t so necessary after all, and the department is using its funding to house unaccompanied migrant children. It is quite odd that the Biden administration is not being pilloried by the activist media as former President Donald Trump was when he took similar action.

Even Politico noted: “The Trump administration faced withering criticism in 2018 for transferring hundreds of millions of dollars meant for biomedical research, HIV/AIDS services and other purposes to cover the expenses tied to an unaccompanied child population that would peak close to 14,000 that year.”

Speaking of Trump, guess who is being blamed for the Biden administration’s inability to deal with the migrant issue? You guessed it: The Orange Man That Is Bad.

Greenberg pointed the finger at Biden’s predecessor to explain why the current president’s team can’t get it together. “After effectively sealing the southern border last year, the Trump administration never expanded its shelter capacity to the level that HHS has pegged as critical to its preparedness, Greenberg said, leaving the department shorthanded when Biden resumed allowing migrant children into the country,” according to Politico.

He continued: “If they had started this year with 16,000 beds instead of 8,000, they could have managed in February and had time to determine how in an orderly way to expand capacity for the very large numbers in March.”

Greenberg concluded: “Fundamentally, it’s this mix of: numbers were greater than expected, capacity was less than needed and there was tremendous pressure to alleviate crowding at [the border].”

This attempt to blame Trump for Biden’s failure was a valiant effort on Greenberg’s part, but this situation would not be as severe had the president not essentially invited over 100,000 migrants to make the trip to America’s southern border. It likely wouldn’t be as big a problem if he hadn’t insisted on reversing most of Trump’s immigration policies.

Now that he has reinstated Catch and Release, it is not hard to imagine that the situation will get much worse. At this point, the White House won’t be able to simply pretend their failures are Trump’s fault. But that doesn’t mean they won’t try, right?