Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace

The GM strike could be almost over

Oct 17, 2019

Latest Episodes

Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
This Is Uncomfortable
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy

The facilities that are housing children separated from their parents

Andy Uhler and David Brancaccio Jun 20, 2018
Share Now on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Undocumented migrants wait for asylum hearings outside of the port of entry in Tijuana, Mexico on Monday.
Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Who’s getting paid to carry out the Trump administration’s policy of separating children?

In March, the Trump administration ordered prosecutors to charge people illegally crossing the border and separate children traveling with their parents. Marketplace’s Andy Uhler looked at the money that flows into the facilities housing these children, starting with a firm called Southwest Key. Below is an edited transcript. 

David Brancaccio: Tell me more about this company. How did this nonprofit grow to be such a key player in this industry?

Andy Uhler: So Southwest Key started as a local nonprofit here in Brownsville that housed basically less than 50 boys who had entered the country illegally, but were not yet 18.

It’s now a huge nonprofit whose budget last year was almost half a billion dollars. Now a lot of that money comes through contracts with the federal government. But you’re right, it’s a bit anomalous because the other companies in the private prison space, and that’s what we’re talking about when you talk immigrant detention centers for the most part are for-profit companies. Now I spoke with Alex Friedmann at the Human Rights Defense Center who dug into exactly how these companies make money. And I asked him whether being a nonprofit, like Southwest Key, actually matters.

“It’s all from the same bucket, which is taxpayer money. So all the money that you and I and listeners all pay to the federal government in our taxes, it all just goes into a big bucket and then it’s paid out to various contractors that the federal government contracts with, whether they’re for-profit or nonprofit,” Friedmann said. 

Now, as a nonprofit, Southwest Key doesn’t have to pay federal income tax, but what Friedmann told me is that these other for-profit groups have declared themselves real estate companies and established real estate investment trusts, or REITs, to house their money because those are also exempt from many federal income taxes.

Brancaccio: But this is clearly a growth opportunity for the nonprofit Southwest Key as the Trump administration pushes the family separation policy.

Uhler: You’re right, and there’s already talk of a new facility dedicated to very young children that would operate in Houston. But Houston’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner, has already met with Southwest Key and he’s asked them to reconsider their plans to open that facility there.

Brancaccio: And you contacted Southwest Key. What did they say?

Uhler: I got an email from Southwest Key and I’ll just read you what they wrote me: “Southwest Key Programs does not operate detention centers so we do not have detainees in our programs. We are a fully licensed child care program and each of our shelters is regulated by a childcare licensing authority and as well as the Office of Refugee Resettlement and other state and local agencies.”

Brancaccio: All right, but I just looked at the dictionary. To detain — keep someone in official custody — is one of the definitions.

Uhler: You’re right, and we should be clear that Southwest Key’s job, as a contractor with the United States government is to take care of unaccompanied minor undocumented immigrants and children who have been separated from parents who allegedly entered the country illegally.

Quick stats on immigrant detention:

-Over 60 percent of people are held in privately run immigrant prisons.

-Immigrant prisons and jails are holding people for longer periods of time under the Trump administration compared to the Obama administration. In 2017, the average length of stay at these prisons and jails was 34 days, compared to 22 days in 2016.

-It’s costing each Washington resident $145.19 in taxpayer dollars, per day, to detain people, while it’s costing each California resident $144.35 per day — the most out of any state.

-The states with the largest number of people in U.S. immigration detention per day include Texas (15,852), California (6,527), Arizona (3,869), Georgia (3,717), and Louisiana (3,143).

-The median age of someone deported by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is 30 years old, while most people in immigration detention are between 26 and 35 years old.

-Mexico is the country with the highest number of people who get detained, followed by El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.  

Source: Freedom for Immigrants

 

If you’re a member of your local public radio station, we thank you — because your support helps those stations keep programs like Marketplace on the air.  But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.

Your donation — as little as $5 — helps us create more content that matters to you and your community, and to reach more people where they are – whether that’s radio, podcasts or online.

When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.

Check Your Balance ™️
Check Your Balance ™️
Personal finance from Marketplace. Where the economy, your personal life and money meet.

Thank you to all the donors who made our fall drive a success!

It’s Investors like you that keep Marketplace going strong!