Alaska's refugee assistance programs could face cuts as the Obama administration addresses the surge of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
Extreme poverty and violence in some Central American countries has created a humanitarian crisis in the United States. The U.S. Department of State says that more than 57,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border since last October.
The federal government has approved a shift of $94 million from funds for refugee resettlement to unaccompanied alien children programs. Catholic Social Services officials in Anchorage say that means current programs that focus on refugee health, school and helping older refugees integrate into the community would see significant cuts.
For Anchorage, programs catering to refugees could lose about $350,000 starting Aug. 15.
"Those are all programs that help refugees to successfully integrate," said Karen Ferguson with CSS. "Not just arrive here, have a little money and put food on the table, but actually become an inherent part of our community, be involved in the school, be healthy enough to participate in their neighborhoods."
Earlier this month, President Obama requested $3.7 billion to help with the illegal immigration crisis -- money that Karen Ferguson says would solve the crisis if approved by Congress.