CEO Of Nation's Largest Provider Of Detention Facilities For Migrant Children Steps Down

Mar 11, 2019

The founder and CEO of the nation's largest provider of facilities used to detain migrant children on behalf of the Trump administration is stepping down after months of criticism. 

One of Southwest Key Program's Texas facilities used to detain migrant children
Credit Texas Monthly

The announcement was made today in a statement issued by Southwest Key Programs. The Austin, Texas-based nonprofit says CEO Juan Sanchez is leaving the organization after pushing back against public criticism for the detainment of children by the government.

Sanchez said, unlike Border Patrol facilities where migrants are usually first detained, Southwest Key's facilities typically have dormitory-style sleeping areas, classrooms and playgrounds. He told the Associated Press in June that "somebody has to take care of them', referring to children held by the government until they can be placed in foster care, or with an adult sponsor or relative. Sanchez said there is widespread misunderstanding about the detainment business and that it could benefit from new leadership. 

The New York Times reported in December that federal prosecutors were examining Southwest Key's finances. And the Arizona REpublic published videos last fall in which staffers were seen pushing and shoving children in their care. As a result, 2 facilities were shut down, and the organization paid fines in Arizona after an investigation over whether it conducted staff background checks.