Weekly Column: Trump lacks common sense and human decency regarding immigrant children

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the Lotte New York Palace hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

This past week, it was discovered the Trump Administration plans to pay for immigrant children they have obtained custody of by cutting funding from crucial programs like cancer research and HIV/Aids prevention. If you’re like me, you’re probably also thinking about how ridiculous this sounds. Of all of the programs that should be suffering due to a questionably ethical decision (like forcibly removing children from their families for no good reason), our cancer and HIV/AIDS research are some of the last that should be cut.

First of all, the fact of the matter is that these research and prevention programs are necessary in the United States’ healthcare system. The rates of HIV and AIDS cases in the U.S. have been dropping over the past decade or so, and this is largely due to the strong prevention efforts we currently have. According to HIV.gov, “From 2010 to 2015, the estimated number of annual HIV infections in the U.S. declined eight percent.” By cutting funding in this department we will be running the risk that the progress made over the past decade or so in HIV/AIDS prevention will be reversed.

This year, it was also reported by the the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that the number of sexually transmitted infections (STI) confirmed in the U.S. was at a record high. This number does not include HIV/AIDS cases that were diagnosed, and instead contains confirmed cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. The number one reason that professionals have attributed to this rise in diagnoses, which has been following a trend over several years, is simply lack of funding. With a decline in funding for the prevention of STIs, it makes sense that the results would show a negative impact on the rates of these diseases. If our country intends to cut the rates of funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, another disease which can be sexually transmitted, it only makes sense to assume that we will be seeing higher instances of these cases in our country.

Cancer rates in our country do not seem to be declining either. According to the NIH National Cancer Institute, in 2018 an estimated 1,735,350 will be newly diagnosed with cancer and over 600,000 will die from the disease. While we are learning more about cancers and growing closer to cures in some respects, there is still a plethora of information that we do not know. Research on certain types of cancers do not receive much federal funding as it is. Childhood cancers only receive four percent of the total amount of funding allocated to research on cancers, while over 15,000 children and adolescents are affected by the disease yearly. If money is taken away from research to prevent and treat cancer, these numbers are only going to increase, as the science to grow closer to a cure becomes harder to perform.

The most obvious reason it seems that we should not be taking $260 million to pay for the obtained children of undocumented immigrants is that we should not be detaining these children from their families in the first place. According to the New York Times, approximately 12,800 immigrant children, a record-breaking number, are being held by the U.S. government. These children have done nothing wrong other than have the unfortunate luck to be brought to the U.S. in a time when tolerance levels, and apparently human decency, are nowhere to be found. The number of children separated from their families has been growing since the summer, and instead of coming up with plans to reunite them with their families and treat them decently, the Trump administration is planning to change policies that would allow them to hold them even longer. The ongoing practice of removing these children from their families was already damaging enough, causing physical, mental and emotional trauma for many, but now the idea of holding them indefinitely is doing the opposite of solving the problem.

Overall, this entire situation seems like one massive screw up. Not only is the Trump administration causing significant harm to a huge group of children and families, but they are attempting to pay for this issue by taking money from other deserving groups. They are essentially slapping a Band-Aid on the problem and walking away while the entire issue is going to continue bleeding internally. If the government wants to actually solve the problems they have created over the past few months, they need to rethink their approach and start using a little more common sense and human decency.


Emma Hungaski is the associate opinion editor  for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.hungaski@uconn.edu.