The Detention Of Immigrant Children In The U.S.: A Billion Dollar Industry


Recent news has been storming the nation of hundreds of people, families, being detained after their attempts to cross the American border. Though with this, children are being detained as well. This rightfully got a lot of attention from the public, stating that it is not right and inhumane to separate a child from their family.

The detention of immigrant children is now becoming a growing industry in the United States, which reaps $1 billion annually. This number has increased by tenfold in the last decade according to an analysis by the Associated Press. Health and Human Services (HHS) monetary grants for foster care, shelters, and other child welfare services for said detained, unaccompanied, and otherwise separated children went from $74.5 million to $958 million between the years of 2007 and 2017.

This agency is also reviewing proposals around growing efforts from the White House to keep immigrant children in government custody. Policies are currently in place saying that they may only be held for thirty days until they are required to be released.

Right now, more than 11,800 children are being housed in about 90 facilities in the United States. Their ages range from infant age to 17 years old. These states are: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Some of these children are being held while their parents are awaiting immigration proceedings. The ones who arrived unaccompanied are in the process of being reviewed for asylum while they are detained.

In May, the agency requested bids for give projects that can potentially total for than $500 million for beds, foster care, therapeutic care, and “secure care”. Secure care involves employing on-duty guards. In October, there is expected to be more bids. Kenneth Wolfe, HHS spokesman, states that the agency will be awarding bids “based on the number of beds needed to provide appropriate care for minors in the pogeram”.

The agency’s current facilities include locations for tender age children, as the Trump administration calls them. Tender age children are usually five years old and younger. Three Texas shelters have been designated for toddlers and infants as of now. Others include tents in Tornillo, Texas and a “tent-and-building” temporary shelter in Florida which house older teenagers.

In the last ten years, the largest recipient of taxpayer money has been Southwest Key and Baptist Child & Family Services (AP’s analysis). From 2008 to now, Southwest Key has received about $1.39 billion in grant funding in order to operate shelters. The Baptist Child & Family Services has received about $942 million.

International Education Services, Texas based, was also a big recipient. They had more than $72 million in the last year prior to several other complaints about shelter conditions.

Money recipients run solely from nonprofits, religious organizations, and for-profit entities. The organizations were originally just concentrating on the housing and detention of at-risk youth. However, they shift their focus to immigrants after tens of thousands of Central American children began to arrive at the U.S. border. This shift occurred over the last few years.

Essentially, they are government contractors for the Health and Human Services Department (HHSD). The Health and Human Services Department is a federal agency which administers the program that keeps said immigrant children in custody. Southwest Key, and other organizations like it, insist upon children being properly cared for. As well as that the large sums of money received are necessary in order to house, transport, educate, and provide medical care for all of the children. While, of course, complying with all government regulations and specific court orders.

Since talk has recently risen about family separation, and the well being of innocent children, the locations are facing large controversy. One southwest Key facility in Texas was formerly a Walmart store. This is what is thought to be the biggest child immigrant facility in the U.S.. Melania Trump, the First Lady, visited a Southwest Key facility but it was the one in Phoenix, Arizona.

Many people are standing against government shelters. One of which is Democrat Senator in New York, Kirsten Gillibrand. She says, “You can’t put a child in a prison. You cannot. It’s immoral”. People nationwide are standing against this controversial subject. Although it is controversial, it is not something that can be ignored.

Shelters are going to continue to expand due to the fact that there is no current system in place for reuniting families that have been separated at the border. Gillibrand says, “These are real concerns that the administrations has not thought through at all”.

President Donald Trump insists upon cracking down on the immigration levels, and suggests that it can lead to spending less money by having fewer immigrants that are in government custody. This means less children needing to be taken care of. However, they need to be taken care of while they are here; they deserve justice.

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