Five businesses are making millions from government contracts to run shelters for young migrants, some of which hold the thousands of children and babies forcibly separated from their parents, a new report says.
Although President Trump signed an executive order today reversing his own policy to separate children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, there is no mechanism to reunite parents with children who have already been seized. Some live in “tent cities” set up in Texas, some in “tender-age shelters” for babies and toddlers, some in other shelters throughout the country.
According to Yahoo News, five companies contracted to operate shelters for young migrants were found via GovTribe.org, a real-time federal contract database. The companies were contracted via a government vehicle called “Shelter Care for Unaccompanied Children 2022.” But not all children held in the shelters crossed into the country by themselves. The companies are:
• Comprehensive Health Services Inc. (CHSI). A Florida company that touts its experience with “immigrant shelter services,” it was awarded three contracts worth up to $65 million, starting in September 2017 for “emergency shelter operations.”
• Dynamic Service Solutions, a Maryland firm, was awarded a contract worth up to $8.7 million from HHS through the “shelter care for unaccompanied children” vehicle in September 2017.
• Southwest Key Programs, a nonprofit, was awarded two contracts in September 2017 totaling $3.6 million for “emergency shelter operations.” According to ABC News, Southwest Key runs 26 shelters for young migrants, including Casa Padre in Brownsville, Texas. Located in a former Walmart, Casa Padre made national news when Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) was prevented from entering the facility to inspect its conditions. According to Bloomberg, the federal government will pay Southwest Key $458 million this year.
• Dynamic Educational Systems, an Arizona firm, was awarded $5.6 million for “emergency shelter operations.” “A woman who answered the phone at Exodyne Inc. on Tuesday laughed when we said we were calling to ask if executives there had concerns they might be helping separate children from their parents,” Yahoo News reported.
• Virginia-based MVM was awarded two contracts totaling $9.5 million in September 2017 for “shelter operations” and for unspecified “emergency and other relief services.” But GovTribe shows that the company has only provided $3,100 of shelter services under the contracts. The company told Yahoo it would not participate in the child separation program.
Trump’s executive order does not end his administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy, in which Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered that border crossings be treated as crimes.