The recent separation of some 2,300 migrant children from their families under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal border crossers has thrust this invisible industry into the spotlight in recent weeks, as images of toddlers and teenagers taken from their parents and detained behind locked doors have set off a political firestorm. President Trump’s order on Wednesday calling for migrant families to be detained together likely means millions more in contracts for private shelter operators, construction companies and defense contractors.
A small network of private prison companies already is operating family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania, and those facilities are likely to expand under the new presidential directive, should it stand up to legal review, analysts said.
The range of contractors working in the migrant-shelter industry varies widely.
BCFS, a global network of nonprofit groups, has received at least $179 million in federal contracts since 2015 under the government’s so-called unaccompanied alien children program, designed to handle migrant youths who arrive in the country without a parent or other family member. Many of the contractors, some of which are religiously affiliated organizations and emergency-management agencies such as Catholic Charities, see their work as humanitarian aid to some of the most vulnerable children in the world.
But several large defense contractors and security firms are also building a presence in the system, including General Dynamics, the global aerospace and defense company, and MVM Inc., which until 2008 contracted with the government to supply guards in Iraq. MVM recently put up job postings seeking “bilingual travel youth care workers” in the McAllen area of South Texas. It described the jobs as providing care to immigrant children “while you are accompanying them on domestic flights and via ground transportation to shelters all over the country.”..
The shelters’ rush to house, and cash in on, the surge of children has made them a new target for Democrats, immigrant advocates and a vocal chorus of local, state and federal officials and community leaders…
Some have raised concerns that the rush to expand will make it difficult to properly manage the housing and care of infants, toddlers and teenagers, all of whom have a host of complex emotional, health and legal issues. In recent years, a number of migrant youth shelters have run into problems unseen by the public: fire-code violations, lawsuits claiming abuse, and complaints from employees alleging wrongful termination and unpaid wages.
To read the full article, The Billion-Dollar Business of Operating Shelters for Migrant Children, by Manny Fernandez and Katie Benner, highlight and click on https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/21/us/migrant-shelters-border-crossing.html