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The Department of Homeland Security, the agency tasked with caring for undocumented immigrants immediately after they are apprehended, has diverted $45 million in operational funds to go toward medical costs over the past five years, according to data obtained by the Washington Examiner.

The U.S. Border Patrol has diverted $9 million in operational funding in fiscal year 2019, as it has done in each of the four previous years, to instead cover medical screenings and related services for thousands of immigrants.

Border Patrol began transferring the money at the beginning of fiscal year 2015, just as record-high numbers of unaccompanied minors were arriving at the southern border. The Border Patrol, part of Customs and Border Protection, entered into a Medical Services Blanket Purchase Agreement with a contract medical provider in fiscal 2015.

The agreement included screenings and referrals to specialists when necessary. Patients who needed additional medical help were sent to a local medical treatment facility, which was included in the $9 million.

The millions of dollars transferred in 2019 went toward appointments for more than 4,800 immigrants — one-third of whom were part of a family unit — who were sent to a hospital or medical facility for care between Dec. 22, 2018, and Feb. 24.

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