The following is a statement from AIDS United CEO Jesse Milan, Jr. on reports that the Trump administration is seeking to reallocate funding meant for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to the Office of Refugee Resettlement to cover the costs associated with resettling children separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border:
Washington, DC – “AIDS United is troubled by Slate Magazine’s report that the Trump administration plans to divert funding from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to cover the cost of child detainment tied to its “zero tolerance” immigration policy. We oppose any diversion of Ryan White Program funds for purposes not related to caring for the 1.2 million people living with HIV in this country. We are especially opposed to diverting Ryan White funds to cover the ever-growing costs of a policy that is unnecessary, cruel, and a violation of basic human decency.
“As a payer of last resort, the Ryan White Program covers services for people that have no other means to pay for them. Any shortages in funding to the program would result in essential services not provided to potentially thousands of Americans. This could mean people not receiving life-saving medications or losing insurance coverage because funding was not available to cover their premiums. For an administration that just recently proclaimed its commitment to ending the HIV epidemic in this country, stripping funding from the largest HIV-specific federal program defies all logic.
“This is an entirely Trump-made crisis that this administration has the power to solve at any time, free of charge. By simply reverting to the policy in place during both the Bush and Obama administrations, no child would be separated from his or her family, and there would be no additional costs accrued by the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Attempting to pay for this policy on the back of low-income people living with HIV is reprehensible. If reports of this policy are inaccurate, then we urge the administration to state so clearly and publicly. We also urge the administration reconsider its policy of ‘zero tolerance.’ Either way, we insist that not a single penny of funding from the Ryan White Program - or any other unrelated program at HHS - be used for this xenophobic agenda.”