HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The founder and CEO of the nation’s largest provider of facilities for detaining migrant children on behalf of the Trump administration is stepping down after months of criticism.

Southwest Key Programs said in a statement that Juan Sanchez will retire.

The Texas-based nonprofit collects hundreds of millions of dollars through the Department of Health and Human Services to run facilities along the southern border.

It came under fire as the Trump administration detained more immigrants and conducted large-scale separations of families last year, pushing children into the organization’s facilities without their parents’ consent. At least one facility in South Texas served as a “tender-age” shelter for toddlers with cribs and other supplies.

According to government data obtained exclusively last year by The Associated Press, the number of children held by Southwest Key grew to around 5,000 at a time last year, including around 1,400 at an old Walmart in Brownsville, Texas. Southwest Key received $523 million in government funding from January to September.

Critics have accused Sanchez of facilitating the detention of thousands of children and questioned the salaries Southwest Key paid him and his family. Sanchez earned $1.5 million, according to the organization’s 2017 tax filings.

The New York Times reported in December that federal prosecutors were examining Southwest Key’s finances. And the Arizona Republic published videos from mid-September in which staffers pushed and shoved children in their care. The organization closed two facilities and paid a fine in Arizona after an investigation over whether it conducted staff background checks.

Sanchez has pushed back against public criticism by saying that Southwest Key performs a necessary task in taking in children detained by the government.

“Somebody has to take care of them,” he told AP in June.

Unlike the Border Patrol’s facilities where migrants are usually first detained, Southwest Key’s facilities typically have dormitory-style sleeping areas, classrooms, and playgrounds. Children remain at the facilities until the government can place them in foster care or with an adult sponsor, typically a relative. The Department of Health and Human Services said the average stay for children in government facilities was 60 days.

Southwest Key thanked Sanchez and said “it’s time to begin a new chapter.” Chief Operating Officer Joella Brooks will serve as interim CEO.

Sanchez said in the statement that the organization “would benefit from a fresh perspective and new leadership.”

“Widespread misunderstanding of our business and unfair criticism of our people has become a distraction our employees do not deserve,” Sanchez said. “It’s time for new beginnings.”

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments
  1. SANCTUARY CITIES: What a place to start a family. Illegal aliens, gang members, felons fleeing ICE are your neighbors. Emergency services Taxpayer pay for every police, fire, paramedic service call for illegal aliens in their city. Taxpayers pay for all hospital, emergency room treatments, ambulances, medications. Hospital wait times for citizens are negatively impacted.

    THE STAMPEDE:
    Its Trumps fault!!! LOL. Democrats offer rewards, incentives so…..More caravans on the way. The current migration at our border is costing U.S taxpayers a Kings ransom. Fleeing persecution? or fleeing for freebies? they sure don’t stay in Mexico when they reach “safety” or ask or offered political asylum in Mexico. Why? because Mexico will give them NOTHING. So they make the long journey to our border, our generous Democrats, and our tax dollars. Notice how many have made the long, difficult, dangerous journey to our country 8-9 months pregnant? Give birth on American soil and the U.S. taxpayers will not only pay for the birth of you’re child but will also give you state government assistance.

    THE WALL:
    The Border Patrol, DHS, ICE our Military & the Army Corps of Engineers have all endorsed the need for a wall numerous times almost nightly. However, immigration experts Nancy Pelosi & Chuck Schumer disagree, saying the wall won’t work, oh and they also have zero ideas. I’ll go with the opinions of the border patrol not open borders crowd. Barrack Obama’s own border patrol chief, Mark Morgan, has repeatedly stated that walls work. They free up resources to focus on the points of entrances so they can detect more contraband and illegals. Check out the wall on youtube.

    TPS / DACA
    To Democrats/Progressives/Socialists (whats the difference?) programs like Temporary Protective Status (TPS) or Deferred Action For Childhood arrivals (DACA) are permanent programs….there is nothing “temporary or deferred.” These programs are designed to admit refugees (usually from the third world) then Democrats fight to keep them here permanently using the charge of racism, religion, guilt against anyone opposed. Simple formula works great.

    THE PRICE:
    Democrats view U.S. citizens as acceptable collateral damage to their future long range goals of flooding the country with refugees & illegal aliens and having taxpayers paying the cost. Democrat politicians and their voters have put families at risk of being victimized by illegal aliens as in the cases Kate Steinly (nothing done) then…. Mollie Tibbetts, (nothing done) and now, Police Cpl. Ronil Singh nothing will be done…who’s next? These victims would be alive today if our border was secured. Google search “illegal alien crime” or “victims.” try not to puke the list is unbelievable. Preventable victimization’s.

    Just a few examples of the more outrageous costs associated with illegal immigration, we will pass this burden on to our children & grand children as has been passed on to us.

    *Congress is debating DACA and is costing taxpayers millions of dollars. Thank the parents and Barrack Obama.

    *Cost of educating illegal aliens is staggering. From K-12 it costs taxpayers on average $122,000 for EACH illegal alien student. This does not include the millions spent on bilingual ED, instructors, special need children & day care. School class size are negatively impacted by illegal aliens and our students suffer as a result.

    *Taxpayers in some states are funding “in state college tuition” discounts for illegal aliens. (AZ voted to terminate this taxpayer expense.) Cost to taxpayers over a billion dollars annually.

    *About one in five inmates in federal prison are foreign-born, and more than 90 percent of those are in the United States illegally. This does not include local jails and state prisons. At roughly $24,000 per year expense per inmate.

    *$3Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate, process Illegal aliens in the criminal justice system.

    *Every child birth by illegal aliens in the U.S is paid for with tax dollars.In the US, the average cost to have a baby without complications during delivery, is $10,808, which can increase to $30,000 when factoring in care provided before and after pregnancy (July 9, 2018 google.)

    * Section 8 housing. Illegal aliens take full advantage of this program. Citizens in poverty in many cases wait years because of non citizens for housing.

    *$2.2 Billion dollars a year is spent on is spent on food assistance programs such as SNAP, WIC, & taxpayer funded school lunches. Visit youtube search “cost of illegal immigration.”

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