The Trump administration is refusing to pay for education services of detained migrant children, despite a court settlement saying they must.
The Trump administration is ratcheting up cruelty toward migrant children with a letter to detention facilities saying the federal government will no longer cover the cost of educational and recreational services, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
The Health and Human Services (HHS) department confirmed the letter, first reported by Patrick Michels, in a statement to the Post, saying that the Office of Refugee Resettlement has already stopped providing funds for activities deemed "not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety, including education services, legal services, and recreation."
According to HHS, licensed facilities contracting with the federal government to house migrant children will no longer be allowed to bill for those services, retroactive to May 22.
Employees at detention facilities worry about the impact this action will have on the health and well-being of children.
"What are you going to do all day?" one shelter employee said to the Post. "If you're not going to have any sort of organized recreation or physical activity, what are you going to do, just let them sit in their rooms?"
The administration is blaming a spike in migrant children fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries, saying that the department is running out of money to fund such services.
However, advocates for migrant children say the administration's actions may run afoul of a court agreement requiring the federal government to provide such services.
"We'll see them in court if they go through with it," Carlos Holguin, a lawyer who represents migrant children, told the Post, saying the actions are illegal.
Holguin referred to the Flores Settlement, a 1997 agreement settling a lawsuit against the federal government and which lays out the minimum standards for detained migrant children. Under the agreement, the federal government must provide education services, English language training, recreation and leisure time, according to a fact sheet from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The Trump administration has a sordid history of cruelty toward migrant children. In 2018, Trump championed a family separation policy that resulted in thousands of children being ripped away from their families. The Trump administration was forced to build baby jails to hold all the children they kidnapped from parents.
As overcrowding conditions in detention facilities worsened, the Trump team planned to build new facilities for children on top of a toxic waste dump.
After a court ordered the Trump administration to reunite all the families they separated, the Trump team forced some children to sleep overnight in vans before being allowed to see their parents.
In February, Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) told Shareblue Media that "the entire approach of this administration towards immigrant children has been characterized by cruelty."
But when it comes to the well-being of migrant children, Trump suddenly can't find the money, opting instead to indulge in reprehensible, and possibly illegal, actions.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.