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Trump administration kills legal aid for detained migrant children

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The Trump administration is canceling English classes, recreational programs and legal aid for unaccompanied minors staying in federal migrant shelters nationwide, saying the immigration influx at the southern border has created critical budget pressures.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement has begun discontinuing the funding stream for activities — including soccer — that have been deemed “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety, including education services, legal services, and recreation,” said U.S. Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber.

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Federal officials have warned Congress that they are facing “a dramatic spike” in unaccompanied minors at the southern border and have asked Congress for $2.9 billion in emergency funding to expand shelters and care. The program could run out of money in late June, and the agency is legally obligated to direct funding to essential services, Weber said.

The move — revealed in an email an HHS official sent to licensed shelters last week, a message that has been obtained by The Washington Post — could run afoul of a federal court settlement and state licensing requirements that mandate education and recreation for minors in federal custody. Carlos Holguin, a lawyer who represents minors in a long-running lawsuit that spurred a 1997 federal court settlement that sets basic standards of care for children in custody, immediately slammed the cuts as illegal.

“We’ll see them in court if they go through with it,” Holguin said. “What’s next? Drinking water? Food? . . . Where are they going to stop?”

More than 40,800 unaccompanied children have been placed into HHS custody after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border this year, a 57 percent increase from last year that is putting ORR on track to care for the largest number of minors in the program’s history. Federal law requires the Department of Homeland Security to move unaccompanied minors from austere border jails to more child-appropriate shelters, and they must do so swiftly.

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An average of 12,500 children and youths were held in federal shelters nationwide in April, according to HHS. They stayed an average of 48 days until a case worker could place them with a sponsor, usually a relative. While they wait in the shelters, minors attend school, study math and English and participate in extracurricular activities such as ping-pong, soccer or other sports.

Most of the minors are teenagers fleeing violence and poverty in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

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An HHS official sent an email Thursday to shelters across the country notifying them that the government will not pay for education or recreational activities retroactive to May 22, including related personnel costs. The official characterized those costs as “unallowable.”

Holguin said schooling and exercise are “fundamental to the care of youngsters.”

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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2020 Election

Ex-Tea Party lawmaker perfectly nails why Trump is going down in 2020

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On Saturday, former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) tweeted the simple reason he believes President Donald Trump will lose his bid for re-election in 2020:

Trump will lose in 2020 because the vast majority of America is tired of him. Tired of his bullshit. Tired of his drama. Just plain tired of him.

— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) August 17, 2019

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Illinois woman out of a job after calling for a return to slavery in this incredibly racist video

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According to a report from the Riverfront Times, an Illinois woman seen in a video using ugly racial slurs and calling for a return to slavery is now out of a job over her comments.

The reports states that the two women seen in the video, identified as Macy Castleman and Jayde Landers, claim it was recorded it three years ago but it just came to light again after Gabbi Goldsborough posted it to Facebook with the warning: "I love how people sit around & act like racism isn’t still a thing. macy castleman and jayde landers u have a lot of explaining to do."

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Epstein hired multiple lawyers to meet with him to avoid being kept in cell before his death: report

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On Saturday, The New York Times published an account of the final days of high-powered wealth manager Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead of apparent suicide in New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center while facing trial for child sex trafficking.

One of the key new revelations from the report is that Epstein despised his cell, which was "cramped, dank and infested with vermin" — so he used his vast wealth to exploit a legal loophole in the prison system that would let him spend most of his time outside of it: hire a bunch of lawyers to come and talk to him for hours and hours so he could get a private room to himself.

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