Funding crisis for housing undocumented immigrant minors

The past two months have seen a rapid increase in the amount of unaccompanied immigrant minors illegally crossing the border between the United States and Mexico; now, a top health official says that the current level of funding to house the minors will not be enough, risking another crisis on the border.

The Associated Press has obtained a letter written by the health and human services secretary, Sylvia Burwell, to members of the House of Representatives’ appropriations committee. In this letter Burwell warns that even with the increased contingency funding requested by President Obama, the agency is still faced with a shortfall that could see a return to the 2014 situation when minors were left at the border for unacceptably long periods.

Mark Weber, a spokesman for the agency, says the secretary is communicating with everyone in Congress to make sure all the necessary steps are taken to ensure they are adequately prepared, but denies that the letter requests more money than already requested by the president. The Obama administration wants to avoid a repeat of the summer 2014 crisis when the south-west border was suddenly overwhelmed by tens of thousands of immigrant families and unaccompanied minors, resulting in what the White House termed “a humanitarian crisis”.

In October and November 10,588 unaccompanied minors crossed the border between the US and Mexico, more than double the figure in the same two months in 2014. Burwell’s later states that “it’s impossible to know whether these trends will continue.”