In February, Trump declared a national emergency at our southern borders.
Thousands of migrants and their children are crossing each day, and when they do, they are detained in shelters and facilities until they are deemed legal to enter.
In May alone, more than 144,000 migrants have been taken into custody. And nearly 40% of them have been children.
This is 182% rise from May of 2018 and a 32% increase since just last month.
Parents are often processed quickly and released with a court date into the U.S. interior. The children must remain in federal custody until caseworkers can place them with a sponsor, usually a relative.
This leaves hundreds of children stuck in federally funded shelters for sometimes as long as 48 days.
During this time, the US government considers it an obligation to take care of these children providing them with the necessities of life, as well as schooling, recreational activities, and legal services.
However, the funding is running out. Trump has asked Congress to pass $4.5 billion in emergency funding, including $2.9 billion for Health and Human Services to expand shelters and continue care.
But so far, they have yet to do anything.
Officials have continually warned Congress that current funding for their efforts is running out. Soon they will not be able to care for the thousands of children they shelter daily.
Even when the money does dry up, the agency is still legally obligated to fund essential services.
To make money last longer, the Trump administration has chosen to cancel some services it offers to these children, namely the recreational programs, legal services, and English classes that are “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety,” says HHS spokesman Mark Weber.
Advocates for immigrants and many Democratic officials have railed at the Trump administration for this decision, claiming that it is inhumane and unjust.
Many of these children are running from extreme poverty and gang violence. Mucarsel-Powell states that taking these services from children in an already stressful situation is robbing them of their humanity.
And while some, like Mucarsel-Powell, are outraged at this news, many are still trying to figure what to do and how to continue care for these children when the funding does officially run out; those like Joella Brooks, the interim CEO of Southwest Key Programs.
This program houses migrant minors by the hundreds across Texas and other states.
She says she is dedicated to working with the government “to understand the reasons behind this decision and what, if anything, we can do to continue offering these vital services.”
She encourages her staff to continue to be compassionate and encouraging to the children in their care, providing the best care possible.
Others such as Yolo County’s shelter in California say it will continue providing services to these children without change for now.
However, they understand some changes may need to be made in the near future, especially if funding must begin to come from the county instead of the feds.